A new college in Sutton for young people with special needs

09 Feb 2024

Sutton councillors will discuss exciting proposals to expand the Sutton Life Centre in Alcorn Close, Sutton into a college for 16+ year olds with special educational needs and disabilities, operated by Orchard Hill College, at the next meeting of the Strategy & Resources Committee on 19 February.  

 We want our borough to be an inclusive place for everyone and we need to use our resources wisely. A fall in the number of users at the Sutton Life Centre since the pandemic has provided an opportunity to rethink how to make best use of the building.

The plans would see up to 72 students attending the college and is a key part of the Council’s ambitions to give everyone opportunities as:

Sutton supports proportionally more young people with Education Health and Care Plans -318 per 10,000 of population aged 0-24 - than the London average of 292, and the national average of 280
The number of students supported with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) in Sutton has significantly increased in recent years, and continues to grow. The Council currently has over 2,100 students with an EHCP, which represents a 94% increase against 1,100 in 2015

A central part of the Council’s ambition is to ensure that young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) are well supported in the borough and receive a high-quality education with opportunities for their future.  

Orchard Hill College is a specialist college that offers life-changing learning opportunities to students with complex needs, that is well placed to meet the needs of current and future young people in Sutton. It is rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted - the government’s inspection agency for standards in education, children’s services and skills. 

The building would retain the current community library and sports facilities as an important part of the Sutton Life Centre. 

Councillor Ruth Dombey, Leader of Sutton Council, said: 
“As part of our ambitious plans to create an inclusive place for everyone, Sutton Life Centre will provide high-quality learning for young people with additional needs and disabilities in Sutton. 

“These proposals ensure that we can retain our library and sports facilities at the Life Centre, which provide valued local services for our residents, as well as much-needed dedicated school places.”

This proposal will be taken to the Strategy & Resources Committee on 19 February 2024. Read the full report.

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