The Department for Education (DfE) has been running a local authority special free school bid process. Barnsley Council and Sheffield City Council submitted a joint bid. This bid has been successful.
The new school will offer 200 places for children and young people in Barnsley and Sheffield with complex autism and communication needs. A place won't be reliant on having an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnosis. Strong evidence of complex need through the EHC process and being on the pathway for diagnosis will be sufficient.
Children’s learning levels won't be suitable for mainstream education. They may also have a learning disability as a secondary need. There will also be places for children who display traits of, or have a diagnosis of, pathological demand avoidance.
The opening date for the school will depend on the timeframe for its construction. This is not yet confirmed. The current working assumption is that it will be in September 2026 or 2027.
Apply to run the special school
Along with the DfE, we're inviting proposals from prospective sponsors to run the new special school. If a strong proposal is received and taken forward, the DfE will provide capital funding and start up grants. These will be subject to value for money assessments.
The deadline for trust applications is 31 August 2023. Strong applicant trusts will be interviewed after this date.
You can find guidance and application forms on GOV.UK. Proposers are asked that they register their interest first. The closing date for this is 16 June 2023.
You can find more details in our information for groups applying to open a new special free school.