Wiltshire’s first SEMH school set to open next year

WILTSHIRE’S first school dedicated to children with social, emotional and mental health needs (SEMH) is set to open next year.

Final preparations are on course for Melksham House, in Melksham, to open as a school for special educational needs next autumn.

The property has undergone refurbishment to provide schooling for up to 45 primary aged and up to 25 places for secondary age young people for an agreed period based on demand.

And a Wiltshire Council cabinet meeting on Tuesday (December 12) agreed the process for appointing the education provider who will take on the learning role for the new school.

The opening will ensure more children and young people can stay local rather than being bussed out to out-of-county placements, or having Education Other Than in School packages of support, the council said.

Currently, there is no specialist primary school provision for children who have an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP) with Social, Emotional and Mental Health Needs (SEMH) in the county.

There is also an increasing number of secondary age children with an EHCP who require a specialist provision to support their needs, including children and young people who experience anxiety.

Cllr Jane Davies, cabinet member for SEND, said: “We want our children and young people to have their education in Wiltshire at a school they attend full time that works for them and meets their needs.

“This is an important move by Wiltshire Council to ensure we have a high-quality, first-class education for pupils attending this school.

“The next key step will be to appoint the education provider and ensure everything is ready for the next school year.”

Cabinet member for education and skills, Cllr Laura Mayes, added: “Every child deserves an excellent education which helps them thrive, go for every opportunity and work towards their goals.

“We look forward to appointing an education provider who can maximise the opportunities of this beautiful setting and ensure school days work well for all.

“Our business plan is to ensure the right services are in the right place and having this local school will mean less children having to travel out of county.”

The development aims to cut the number of pupils who have to attend out-of-county Independent Special School places, saving the council money and improving the lives of young people.

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