Cheshire East will be home to one of 14 special free schools due to open in 2019, the Department for Education announced this week.

East Cheshire Youth Achievement Free School Trust, which runs Fermain Academy in Macclesfield, has been approved to open a 40-place special free school for children aged 4-16 with social, emotional and mental health needs in Crewe.

Cheshire East Council has identified the need for additional special school places within the borough to enable the needs of pupils to be met locally, and has a range of plans in place to develop local provision.

The council, in partnership with the Department for Education (DfE), launched a search to find a high quality organisation to run a new special free school in the borough in July 2017.

The new school, called the Axis Academy, will be built on the former Lodgefields School site in Crewe and will support pupil development across all key stages. It will also aim for all students to gain relevant qualifications that will help them as they move to higher education or take their first steps into employment.

Councillor Jos Saunders, Cheshire East Council cabinet member for children and families, said:  “We are extremely pleased with the announcement that East Cheshire Youth Achievement Free School Trust will run the new special school. They presented a very strong bid with clear passion, dedication and commitment to make the new school a success.

“The Cheshire East parent carer forum was fully involved in the decision-making process which rightly gave them a say in who will run the new school.  We had three bidders that went through to the final interview stage and all three were very credible, which puts us in a good position for the creation of further provision.

“We have a growing need for school places for children with special educational needs and disabilities within the borough.  I welcome the DfE announcement, bringing the reality of a new school one step closer, offering parents more choice and providing the excellent education that every child deserves.”

Nic Brindle, Principal of Fermain Academy, said:  “I am delighted with the opportunity to work closely with the council to open the new special free school and support its wider ambitions to improve services for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities.”