A near £8m extra investment to increase early years and secondary school places and specialist provision is part of Portsmouth City Council budget proposals being considered today (13 February).

Portsmouth secondary schools will see a significant increase in new pupils coming into Year 7 over the next four years. At the same time, there continues to be a rise in the number of children with special educational needs and disabilities, as seen nationally.

To address this growing need, the city council is proposing nearly £8m of additional capital funding in education next year. Over £7.5m would go to working in partnership with local secondary schools to create the extra places required, as well as increasing high-quality provision for children with additional needs. This comes on top of recent investment to increase the number of specialist places in Portsmouth. This has included the opening of the Wymering Special School and Arundel Court Inclusion Centre last year, and work currently taking place to increase the number of places offered at Cliffdale special school from September 2024.

In addition, £380,000 of capital funding is also proposed to increase nursery and childcare places, to help support the extension of free childcare hours for children from nine months old from September 2024.

These proposals are part of the council’s capital budget, which can be used for major one-off projects and statutory improvements.

Cllr Suzy Horton, Cabinet Member for Children, Families and Education, said: “We are committed to supporting every school to provide a high-quality and inclusive education to Portsmouth children. That is why we’re proposing to invest nearly a quarter of our total £33m capital budget next year in education, to create more early years, secondary and special school places to meet our growing need.”

The budget proposals have been agreed by the council’s Cabinet and will now be considered for full approval at the Full Council meeting today (13 February).