Initial consultation: new free special school 2022

Closed 10 Jun 2022

Opened 4 May 2022


West Northamptonshire Council (WNC) has identified the need to provide additional specialist school places for children and young people, preferably to the south-west of Northampton, within reasonable travelling distance of Towcester, Daventry and Brackley.

The need is for places for pupils with autistic spectrum conditions (ASC) and with severe learning difficulties (SLD). To address these needs, the council is proposing that a new special free school should open providing up to 250 places from September 2024. 

Under the free school ‘presumption’ route, the local authority (WNC in this instance) is responsible for funding the Proposed New School and providing a suitable site.  WNC has identified land on St. John’s Road, Tiffield. This is near Towcester.

Capital totalling about £15.5m is available to support the 500 proposed new places between 2022 and 2024.  The council will consider any additional capital funding required through its capital planning process.

To comply with section 6A of the Education and Inspections Act, 2006 (the ‘free school presumption’) the council must, in the first instance, seek proposals to establish a free school. WNC is beginning this process by holding this initial consultation with the aim of collecting views to help decide how to proceed and to help formalise and finalise proposals. 

There are many steps to take before the proposed new school could open including further periods of consultation once a sponsor has been selected; however, the key milestones are as follows:

Date    Key Milestones
4 May to 10 June 2022 Initial local authority consultation (this process)
15 June 2022    Full free special school specification published for prospective sponsors;
15 July 2022    Application window closes
29 July 2022    Council ‘preferred bidder’ decision communicated to Department for Education
August/September 2022 Department for Education confirmation of the appointment of a sponsor
Late 2022    Planning / construction starts
September 2024 (or later if necessary) School part-opens


Evidence of need

In our area, the number of pupils on the autistic spectrum with high needs will increase by about 300 by 2025, with pupils with speech language and communication needs increasing by about 50.  We also want the school to provide places for 5-10 pupils with severe learning difficulties

The development of the proposed school will be part of a suite of proposals being developed by the council in conjunction with a range of mainstream schools which have agreed new or expanded resourced provisions and special schools, which have agreed additional places.  

Taken together, this will provide 500 new specialist places for learners who have complex special educational needs and disabilities in local special schools and specialist centres.  The plan is to complete the capital programme by September 2024, including the staged opening of the new special school.

You can find further information in our Free Special School Proposal. and you can view the location map and identified land at Tiffield.

Have your say

WNC would like to know what people think about this proposal and you can respond by following the link below to the online survey. 

If you are unable to complete the online survey, or you require it in an alternative format please contact us by: 

Email: with the subject ‘FAO new special free school presumption’.


  • Alice O’Rourke
  • New special free school presumption
  • West Northamptonshire Council
  • One Angel Square
  • Northampton
  • NN1 1ED

By telephone: 07734 459907

All responses must be received by midnight on 10 June 2022.

What happens next

At the end of the consultation period, WNC will collate and review all of the responses received and they will be published on West Northamptonshire council’s website. The results will be analysed and an assessment made on whether to proceed with the proposal. Should the decision be taken to go ahead, a full specification for the new school will be published in June 2022 and a sponsor will be sought to run the school.


  • Consultations
  • Schools and education