ALMOST 260 extra school places for children with special educational needs will have been created through the district by April.

And these new places will be followed by two purpose built free schools within the next few years.

Bradford Council recently announced plans to create around 360 SEND (special educational needs and disability) places in the district, with current special school provision recently described as being “bursting at the seams.”

The number of Bradford children that have been diagnosed with having special educational needs and disabilities has been rising, partly due to faster diagnosis of young people with conditions like autism.

Many pupils with additional needs are taught in mainstream schools, but the council has decided that the needs of these children would be better met in specialist provision.

Earlier this year the Bradford Schools Forum decided to move money from mainstream school budgets to make 360 spaces at schools with a specialist provision.

At the forum’s most recent meeting, members were told that of 259 of these spaces should be ready by April 2018.

By then, special school places will have increased by 139 since April 2017, while spaces for children with additional needs at specialist provisions attached to existing schools will have increased by 85. There will have been an increase of 20 spaces for SEND pupils at Pupil Referral Units and 15 in early years settings.

The council will create two primary school specialist provisions, one for secondary school aged children in the Keighley area and new specialist free schools.

One free school is expected to open in the South of the district and one in the North. Both will have around 170 pupils.

Early years places would be created at Abbey Green Nursery on Green Lane, Canterbury Nursery, St Edmund’s Nursery in Girlington and Strong Close Nursery in Keighley.

Angela Spencer-Brooke. SEND and Behaviour. Strategic Manager at the council described the local provision in September as facing “a bit of a crisis.” She told the forum: “We’re hoping that by 2021 we will have a sufficiency of places, quality places in the right place in the district. Some of the provision will have to be in the Keighley and Wharfedale areas.

“This review is about how we use our resources as effectively as possible. We are doing this in a very tight time frame.”

A public consultation on the changes is running until August 31.