East Yorkshire parents hope to set up free special school

A group of parents has applied to set up a special school on the East Yorkshire coast.

The proposed school will be set up as a free school, funded directly by central government, but run by parents instead of the local council.

Parents claim the school is needed to reduce the travel times to existing special schools across the region.

A teaching union said that the local authority was best placed to run special needs provision.

One of the parents behind the scheme is Hazel Cockill, whose five-year-old son has severe learning disabilities.

Local support

Ms Cockill said she hoped the new school would reduce the three hours a day her son spent travelling to and from the family's home in Holderness, to his school near Goole.

The group is attempting to raise £100,000 to fund the set-up process. Ms Cockill said the group had received a lot of local support.

She said: "We've already put the word out and we have got some teachers who have come onboard to be on the committee, so I don't think we will have a problem."

Free schools were introduced by the government in 2010.

They are established as academies, independent of local authorities and with increased control over their curriculum, teachers' pay and conditions, and the length of school terms and days.

Brian Swinton, secretary of the East Riding branch of the National Union of Teachers, said there was a "need to look at the geographical distribution of special needs provision in East Yorkshire", but questioned whether setting up a local free school was the best way of solving the issue.

"I have a lot of sympathy for these parents," he said.

"But, I think they would be much better served by putting together a pressure group to get the authority to shift some provision from the west to the east."

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