Proposed Russet Road special school described as 'bare minimum' by Suffolk parent

An indicative CGI image of what the new free special school near Woodbridge Road in Ipswich could look like

An Ipswich parent says the proposed special school provides "the bare minimum." - Credit: Department for Education

A Parent from the Facebook group Campaign for Change (Suffolk SEND) has described the proposed special school on Russet Road, Ipswich as meeting "the bare minimum". 

The school has recently been deferred for approval over road access concerns and these concerns are still being worked on.

Providing 60 places to special education needs children, the school would not only serve Ipswich but the wider community.  

However, Helen, a parent from Ipswich and member of the Facebook group says this is not enough.  

Mum to a nine-year-old son diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder at a young age, Helen has first-hand experience of the SEND crisis prevalent in Suffolk. 

She said: “It’s great that they’ve got something, but it’s not enough and it was never going to be enough.  

“The notion that they should be given a round of applause essentially for providing the bare minimum, is just not acceptable and 60 places isn’t sufficient.   

“When it comes down to the specifics of this build, they’re putting a band aid on a haemorrhaging wound – that is what I feel about this 60-place provision is achieving. They’re not addressing the big problem.” 

Helen believes that the council needs to do more to tackle the wider issue of special education needs (SEN) children not receiving the proper support and helping those currently not in school. 

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“The council need to dedicate time and proper funding to robustly overhaul this. This isn’t something that’s going away. 

“They keep doing different reports and consultancies but ultimately all they’re doing is a lot of talk and no action.” 

Rachel Hood, Cabinet Member for Education, SEND and Skills said Suffolk County Council are making “longer-term improvements” within SEND provision. 

She said: “We have agreed a £45.1million capital programme to create an additional 870 specialist education places over a five-year period to 2024.  

“Two hundred and ten places opened last year with a further 310 opening this academic year and includes new specialist schools in Bungay, Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds. 

“We have also improved the time in which it takes us to issue Education Health and Care Plans from 18% in 2016 to 95% in 2021.” 

She also added that Ipswich and East Suffolk CCGs have invested a million pounds into speech and language therapies.