A SPECIALIST school rated as outstanding by Ofsted will expand to meet growing demand for places from youngsters in Knutsford and Wilmslow.

Cheshire East Council’s cabinet approved plans to expand Park Lane School, in Macclesfield, to increase its pupil numbers from 82 to 122 over a phased period.

The move is part of CEC’s three-year plan to increase its school provision for youngsters with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND).

“It is a very important extension to this school that is absolutely required,” said Labour Cllr Dorothy Flude, cabinet member for children and families.

“Park Lane School is an outstanding school by Ofsted’s standards, so this is actually increasing our outstanding provision for young people who have very special needs.

Knutsford Guardian:

“Some children are actually having to go outside the borough [for school places] and we need to move them back into the borough because that is better for them and their families.”

There are currently 365 youngsters in Cheshire East accessing specialist SEND provision outside the borough, compared to 344 who access the education they need at schools in Cheshire East.

The council’s three-year plan identified the need for an extra 41 school places for children from Macclesfield, Knutsford, Wilmslow and Poynton with severe learning difficulties or autism – with the extra 40 places at Park Lane set to help fill the gap.

Supporting the move, Cllr Jos Saunders, Conservative former cabinet member for children and families, said: “Some of our children cannot be educated in mainstream schools because of the challenges they face.”

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The expansion is expected to cost around £2.6 million, with £1 million set to be funded by developer contributions.

CEC is also extending Springfield School and building a new school in Crewe to increase the borough’s specialist school provision.