Additional SEND places created at Reading schools


Additional places for children with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) have been created in two primary schools in Reading.

Brighter Futures for Children (BFfC) has worked with Reading Borough Council (RBC) on the schemes which will create 18 additional places.

More projects are being planned to meet the increasing demand for SEND places in the Reading area. The programme includes major projects, such as the construction of a new special free school, as well as creating extra places for pupils with SEND in mainstream schools.

New provision for children with social and communication difficulties (SCD) and autistic spectrum conditions formally opened in Southcote Primary School in September. It will be expanded to cater for 12 pupils by September 2022.

The resource will promote the inclusion of pupils with SEND and provide support, advice and training to parents of children with SCD and to school staff.

A satellite class of The Avenue School has also been created at The Ridgeway Primary School where six children started in September.

Di Smith, Board Chair of Brighter Futures for Children, said: “These two projects are great examples of BFfC, the Council and schools working together to meet the needs of children with SEND.

“The Ofsted/CQC Reading local area SEND inspection in the summer noted that local leaders recognise areas which are of most concern to parents, such as the availability of specialist school places, and that plans are under way to address these issues.

“The resources at Southcote and The Ridgeway are part of an ongoing programme to create more SEND school places for Reading pupils and there are other exciting projects under way and in the pipeline.”

Cllr Ashley Pearce, Lead Councillor for Education, said: “There is an identified gap in provision for children with social and communication difficulty in west Reading so the additional places at Southcote Primary are very welcome.

“The new satellite class at The Ridgeway will also provide much needed places while work takes place to expand The Avenue School.

“It makes a big difference for families of children with SEND to have the required resources in schools close to home and we will continue to work with our partners to provide more specialist places around Reading borough.”

Plans are under way to convert and refurbish former office space to create places for an additional 60 pupils at The Avenue School in Tilehurst.

Building work is also progressing well on creating the new home for Hamilton School, previously known as Phoenix College. The SEMH school will cater for up to 64 students aged between 11 and 18.

BFfC and RBC are currently working with Wokingham Borough Council, the DfE and Maiden Erlegh Trust on the creation of Oak Tree School in Winnersh which will provide 75 places for pupils with Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) and/or an Autism Spectrum Condition.  A revised opening date for the school is yet to be announced.

Reading wins national award for Best SEND Local Offer

A service which provides information and support for Reading families with children who have special education needs and/or disabilities (SEND) has won a national award.

The Reading Family Information Service (FIS)/SEND Local Offer won the award for the Best SEND Local Offer at a ceremony last week.

The Local Offer, provided by Brighter Futures for Children, helps families find information about local services, support, activities and events for children and young people who have SEND.

The award was presented at the online National Association of Family Information Services (NAFIS) Coram Family & Childcare conference on Tuesday (9 November). It recognises the remarkable commitment and dedication behind setting up a successful Local Offer which meets the needs of families, and provides information and support which is robust, timely and accessible.

Among other things, Reading SEND Local Offer was also recognised and congratulated for:

  • always using the three Cs in every aspect of the SEND Local Offer – communication, collaboration and coproduction
  • true partnership working with parent carers, young people and the wider community
  • offering more than just a directory/website and providing a full robust information, advice and guidance service to Reading families – going above and beyond
  • partnership work with Reading Families Forum

The conference also heard the positive comments made in the recent Ofsted/CQC Local Area SEND inspection, which said: “Parents of children and young people with SEND have access to good information and advice from the family information service and the local offer. There is widespread awareness among families of where to go to find information and advice. The local offer is responsive to families’ needs, following up all initial contacts to ensure that the identified needs have been met.”

The award was presented by the Chief Executive Officer of Coram Family & Childcare Dr Carol Homden CBE.

Di Smith, Board Chair of Brighter Futures for Children, said: “Congratulations to everyone involved in the Reading SEND Local Offer for winning this well-deserved award.

“Navigating your way around the different services and organisations which provide support for children and young people with additional needs can be difficult for parents. I am delighted that Reading families have such a committed and dedicated team to support them.”


The SEND Local Offer can be contacted in the following ways: