Consultation: Specialist SEN Unit


Consultation on proposal to open a 40-place specialist SEN Unit at Formby High School, Freshfield Road, Formby, Merseyside, L37 3HW from September 2023

Our Proposal

Formby High School would like to hear your views on our proposal to open a 40 place cognition and learning specialist SEN Unit from September 2023.

Our vision is to create a bespoke approach to education which blends the best features of mainstream with the unique features of specialist provision, providing a low sensory and nurturing SEN unit where students thrive.  The unit will enable the delivery of a personalised, needs led core curriculum, underpinned by specialist teaching approaches, and a ‘life, living employability’ skills curriculum complemented by therapeutic and holistic support.  The Formby High School ‘Reaching High’ SEN Unit would equip young people with more complex special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) with the confidence and skills they will require to succeed and fulfill their potential.

We are very keen to provide this support at Formby High School.  Our specialist SEN Unit will be located on campus close to A Building, utilising an existing unoccupied building (the former caretaker’s lodge).  It will be a new, purpose-built building, creating an enabling environment for learners to flourish.  The unit will be managed by the Headteacher and Governing Body of Formby High School.

The unit will have a recurrent funding agreement to support an agreed staffing structure.  The funding will also be utilised to purchase learning resources and equipment as well as meet other running costs associated with the unit.

Places at the unit will be agreed through Sefton Council’s admissions process and the school will be part of the decision-making process.  Initially opening with 26 students across Years 7 to 11 in September 2023, it would grow to full capacity of 40 places (eight in each year group) by September 2025.

Specialist SEN Units are a key part of Sefton Council’s Local Offer for young people with special educational needs and their families and have been identified as a priority for development.  The Formby High School SEN Unit would provide places for children with special needs associated with cognition and learning.

What is a specialist SEN Unit?

SEN Units form part of the specialist provision across Sefton.  They are a key component of Sefton’s SEND Local Offer and of mainstream inclusion support to young people, families and the school system.

SEN Units are facilities within a mainstream school with a dedicated lead teacher and high levels of support staff.  They are an integral part of the school and provide additional support from trained staff for young people, in our context, who are working significantly below age related expectations.

SEN Units provide a learning environment which is calm and adapted to meet needs.  Young people who are allocated a place in the SEN Unit can be taught in small groups in the unit or within mainstream classes as required; they are supported to access mainstream classes alongside their peers as much as they are able to.  The balance of time spent between the unit and mainstream classes can vary and depends on each student’s individual needs.

Placements at the unit are permanent and students will be on the roll of Formby High School.  These places do not form part of the school published admission number (PAN) and are registered in addition to that number.

What are the benefits of this proposal?

The main driver for the governors and senior leaders of Formby High School is to meet the increased demand for specialist educational provision within both our school and the wider local area.  We feel our proposal would benefit young people because it will:

  • Support more students with SEND to be educated and thrive in their local school and community.
  • Enhance student’s progress be effectively meeting their individual special educational needs.
  • Help facilitate better access to the curriculum and support students to achieve their potential.
  • Better support students for life beyond school.
  • Ensure that needs can be met locally, avoiding the requirement for students to spend unnecessary time travelling to an appropriate provision further away. This is better for young people and will save public funds by reducing the costs of transport.
  • Increase the availability of places to meet the needs of students with SEND, including those already on roll with us.
  • Address identified geographical, and age and phase gaps in cognition and learning provision in Sefton.
  • Support the sharing of expertise and good SEND practice within the local area.

Which students will benefit from this provision?

Access to the SEN Unit would require students to hold an Educational Health Care Plan (EHCP).  EHCPs are designated where students’ special educational needs are complex and require more support than can be provided through Quality First Teaching approaches in a mainstream setting.  The unit would support eight students with EHCPs per year group across Years 7 to 11.

Formby High School already provides a highly personalised curriculum, delivered through its ‘Reaching High’ provision, to 40 students in Years 7 to 10.  We view the designation of a SEN Unit as an opportunity to further strengthen this existing Reaching High provision, enabling the current ‘Reaching High’ cohort to transfer to the base.

Capital Costs

All capital costs for the remodelling and extension of the caretaker’s lodge for the new purpose-built accommodation will be funded from Sefton Council’s SEND capital funds from which £400,000 has been designated.

How can you have your say?

This consultation closed on 12 May 2023.

What happens next?

Once the consultation has concluded, the governors and senior leadership of Formby High School will consider all the responses received during this consultation and decide whether to complete a business case and submit it to the Regional Director for a decision on behalf of the Secretary of State.





Contact Us


t:   01704 873100 / 877383

e:   [email protected]



Freshfield Road
L37 3HW

Headteacher: Mr A Wood

twitter: @FormbyHigh


Key Documents



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