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Children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) or requiring alternative provision in England will benefit from a £280 million investment to improve accessibility in schools, the Department for Education (DfE) has unveiled.

Allocated to local authorities across the country, the money could be used to improve accessibility in schools through installing various assistive devices, such as ceiling hoists, ramps or handrails. It could also be used by contributing to the cost of a new, purpose-built special school for children with SEND.

Councils will receive the funding to create new places in schools, academies, colleges and early years settings. The funding will improve existing provision to create modern, fit-for-purpose spaces suited to a wider range of pupil needs.

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Minister for the School System Baroness Berridge said: “It is so important that all children and young people, whatever their background, are able to attend a good school that helps them thrive and gives them the building blocks they need to go on to fulfil their potential.

“For pupils with more complex needs or disabilities, it is especially important that the right facilities and support are in place at whatever school they attend, so they can learn in a modern, adaptable environment.

“This funding will help councils provide targeted support to level up outcomes for some of their most vulnerable pupils.”

The investment, which represents a significant single-year increase in high needs capital investment, follows £365 million allocated through the Special Provision Capital Fund to create places and improve facilities for pupils with SEND across 2018 to 2021.

Additionally, the funding adds to the government’s programme of work to level up outcomes, including the ongoing SEND Review, which is looking at ways to make sure the system is consistent, high-quality and integrated across education, health and care.

Towards the end of 2020, Children and Families Minister Vicky Ford also announced new research, exploring how transformative assistive technology can help to bridge the gap between education and employment for young people with SEND.

The £280 million cash injection is for the financial year 2021-22 to support the provision of high needs places needed by September 2022. Up to an additional £20 million will be used to support High Needs capital projects in a small number of the local authorities facing the highest Dedicated Schools Grant deficits.

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