The Department for Education has announced its approval for a new free school in Barnes for children with special educational needs, following calls from Richmond Park and North Kingston MP Zac Goldsmith and Conservative councillor Paul Hodgins.
The Government will fund the building of the school, which is intended to open in September 2022. It will provide 90 places for children aged seven to nineteen who have social, emotional and mental health needs. Applications are now being sought for groups to run the school.
Zac has long campaigned for more SEN provision in Richmond and brought the then leaders of Richmond Council to meet with Secretary of State for Education Damian Hinds to lobby for more SEN funding and a new SEN school. He wrote to Minister Lord Agnew last year to support the creation of a new school on the Barnes Hospital Site. Lord Agnew recognised “the strong case” Zac made for approving a new school.
Commenting, Zac said: “I am delighted that the Government has listened to us and that SEN provision in our borough will be increased. We need more funding and support for SEN children but this is an important step forwards.”
Barnes Councillor Paul Hodgins, a former leader of Richmond Council and Cabinet Member for Schools, said: “This is great news. When Zac Goldsmith and I met with the Secretary of State to discuss underfunding of SEN in Richmond, we stressed that in the next round of SEN free schools, Richmond desperately needed approval for this school to be able to help control costs with more in-borough provision. Clearly they listened, and I would like to thank Damian Hinds and Zac for that."