New special free school

Following a successful application to the Department for Education (DfE), Solihull will be home to a new 150 place free school, providing vital support for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

The school will provide specialist spaces for pupils aged 11-19 whose needs cannot be met in mainstream education.

The proposed site is on Tanworth Lane, currently where Sans Souci is located. Please see the site boundary.

Academy trusts were invited to express their interest in running the school as part of the DfE pre-registration process by Friday 31 May 2024.

Guidance and more information on how to apply can be found on the DfE website along with the specification for the Solihull school.

We will keep this page updated with information as work progresses.

Frequently asked questions

The Council’s preferred location is the site of its existing training facility Sans Souci, Tanworth Lane, Shirley. The existing building would be demolished, and a new school built.

This has been agreed in principle by the Department for Education (DfE), however it has not gone through the necessary planning process and planning permission has not yet been granted.

As part of the statutory process to open the school there will be a public consultation. This is likely to happen at the pre-opening phase once a trust has been identified.

Sans Souci will close on 31 March 2025 to enable the development to happen.

The Council is in discussions with DfE about who will construct the school, so once a decision has been reached the planning process can begin.

It is anticipated the school will open from September 2027, with a phased approach to fill places over five years.

The DfE will appoint an academy trust to run the school.

Interested trusts are invited to apply by Friday 19 July 2024. Interviews are due to take place in Autumn 2024.

We anticipate the successful trust will be announced in Spring 2025.

Solihull Council will be involved in the selection process alongside the DfE.

The trust running the school will decide on the admissions criteria. However, it will need to meet the specification that has been agreed by DfE through Solihull Council’s bid.

Our aim is that the school will accommodate 150 pupils from Year 7 to Year 14 with a severe learning disability or co-occurring needs.

The special free school is part of the Council’s ambitious programme to cater for the needs of children and young people with additional needs.

It will provide an education for children and young people who:

  • have complex learning needs
  • have a significant learning disability with co-morbid needs including autism, cerebral palsy, sensory needs and social needs
  • are more likely to communicate through behaviour which can challenge or display anxiety/mainstream school refusal