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New Area Special Free School in Fenland

Introduction

Cambridgeshire County Council (The Council) entered into a safety valve agreement with Department for Education (DfE) in March 2023. We are pleased to announce that a key part of that agreement is a new special free school in the March area of Fenland, Cambridgeshire. The new school buildings will be delivered by the DfE using its own consultant and contractor teams.

Background

Cambridgeshire has an existing network of area special schools which provide education for children and young people (CYP) with complex special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) living in the surrounding area. Due to significant growth in demand for special school places, additional places are required to ensure that all CYP in Cambridgeshire can attend a school which meets their needs and enables them to thrive.

This new area special free school will fill a geographical gap in Cambridgeshire’s existing special provision offer, thereby ensuring that CYP have access to an appropriate place, suitable for their needs, regardless of where in the county they live.

Proposal

The new area special school will admit children based on need, up to its capacity of 210 pupils.

March is expected to generate significant demand for places at the new school, though it will also serve the wider Fenland district, and to a lesser degree CYP from other Cambridgeshire districts.

The investment in design and construction is being funded by the DfE via the safety valve agreement. The Council will also contribute some capital funding associated with the specific to the sites it is providing for these schools.

The school is expected to open in September 2026. 

The Department for Education announced on 9 May 2024 that Lime Academy Trust’s application to establish the new school, to be known as Lime Academy March, should proceed to pre-opening phase. The final decision to open any free school depends on the Secretary of State entering into a Funding Agreement with the academy trust proposing to set up the school. Once confirmed, updates will be added to this page.

Contextual information

Timeline

Date

Action

23 August 2023

Application window opens.

23 August 2023

Mandatory pre-registration opens.

22 September 2023

Mandatory pre-registration closes

3 November 2023

Application window closes at midday.

6 November – 1 December 2023

We will assess the applications.

8 - 31 January 2024

Interviews will take place.

March 2024*

Announcement

Further information

If you would like any further information, please contact:

Clare Cook
Email: Clare.Cook@cambridgeshire.gov.uk