A new special free school, sponsored by the Nexus Multi Academy Trust, is set to open its doors in September 2021 – a year later than originally planned. The school will offer 80 full-time places for learners aged 7-16 years who have complex combinations of communication and interaction needs (including autism) as well as social, emotional and mental health needs.
Class sizes will be around 8-10 pupils, with one teacher and up to two teaching assistants per class. The school will offer a range of qualifications, from ASDANs to entry-level qualifications to GCSEs. An online offer will be built into the curriculum. The school will provide a base for therapists, but will not employ any therapists itself.
The new school will be constructed on the site of the former Norfolk Park special school, on Park Grange Road. Plans include plenty of small rooms for therapy, sensory play and small group work, as well as a quiet dining space adjacent to the main dining hall.
Nexus Multi Academy Trust already runs several special schools for children with learning difficulties in South Yorkshire. In Sheffield, Becton School, the Moncrieffe Centre and the Kenwood Centre, which specialise in supporting for children and young people with mental health needs, are due to join the Trust in spring 2020.
A second special free school, also providing 80 places for learners with communication and interaction needs and social, emotional and mental health needs, has been approved for Sheffield, but no sponsor has been announced yet.