In its latest pupil number projections, the Department for Education indicated that it expects there to be an increase in special school places of 13,000 over the period 2017 to 2026, reflecting an upward trend in the special schools population of 29 per cent since 2007.
This will equate to approximately 130 new schools, requiring approximately 6,500 staff, of whom around 1,600 will need to be teachers, within the next nine years.
However, currently there is not enough additional capacity being created, which is likely to result in a greater number of children who would ordinarily access specialist provision being unable to do so.
A recent Tes report suggests that the current pipeline of schools is 19, creating around 1,600 places. If this is indeed the total additional capacity being created then we are looking at there being a significant shortfall.
Wherever you sit on the inclusion continuum, the impact of this is that families who would prefer to access specialist provision will not necessarily be able to exercise their choice to do so.