The Vale of Glamorgan Council plans to meet what it calls "exceptional demand" for special educational provision by building a new £11 million primary school building near Penarth.
Through the recent three-part BBC series, A Special School, viewers were given an insight into the inspirational work that goes on at Ysgol y Deri, the only school of this type in the Vale.
That programme followed pupils’ individual stories and introduced the dedicated staff who help them learn and achieve.
Critically acclaimed for the emotional, heart-warming tales it documented, A Special School proved just how beneficial and important Ysgol y Deri is.
But the school is significantly oversubscribed, with more of this bespoke provision urgently needed to cater for the large numbers that require it.
Ysgol Y Deri Headteacher Chris Britten said: “Ysgol Y Deri was built six years ago. Since then we have seen the numbers of pupils with additional learning needs climb steadily. We now have over 300 pupils in a school that was built for 205. We desperately need to establish another school building as we expect these numbers to keep on rising.
“We know that with the right support and the right environment these pupils can flourish. Mainstream schools cannot meet their needs and that’s where we come in. We are the only special school in the Vale of Glamorgan so there is nowhere else for these children to go – unless it is to other local authorities or private provision which would be at huge cost to the council tax payers.
“The new school building would cater for primary age children and be built along the lines of Ysgol Y Deri to provide everything these children need to be happier and to succeed. It is a much-needed development to look after and educate the children with the greatest and most complex needs in our society.”
To meet those needs, the Council plans to build a new 150-capacity school building for primary pupils on land near Cosmeston Country Park.
This could open in September 2023 and operate as a second site for Ysgol Y Deri.
A public consultation on the proposals will begin shortly.
Cllr Lis Burnett, Vale of Glamorgan Council Cabinet Member for Education and Regeneration, said: “Through the BBC’s fantastic recent documentary, we have all seen how crucial specialist teaching and support is for pupils with special educational needs and it is imperative we provide all children in the County with the environment they need to flourish.
“The staff at Ysgol Y Deri carry out truly incredible work and as a Local Authority we are truly grateful for those efforts. But these pupils also need the correct facilities to reach their full potential.
“Currently, there is an acute need for more special educational provision in the Vale, which is why we want to build this new primary school building on the outskirts of Penarth.
“A significant £11 million investment will help us create a state-of-the-art learning community to help those that attend there excel.”