Consultation on a proposal to expand Hill Park Special School by establishing a satellite site at the Cedar Centre

Closes 29 May 2022


The Local Authority published a SEND Strategy 2021-2026 which had 6 key priority areas:

1.         Inclusion

2.         Early identification and intervention

3.         SEND Pathways

4.         Achievement and Outcomes

5.         Transitions and preparing for the future

6.         Sufficiency of SEND Services and Provision

As part of the SEND Sufficiency priority number 6, our vision is to ensure that the right provision is available at the right time for all children and young people with SEND. This includes Early Years, post-16, post-19, and adults with Learning Disabilities.

We have worked in co-production with parent/carers and have carefully looked at data on children and young people’s needs in the city.  This has identified that there are gaps for autistic children and young people who have anxiety and mental health issues without a learning disability.  To provide a better range of provision in the city for this group of children and young people, we are planning on expanding the number of places at Hill Park School to accommodate these needs, as a significant number these students are currently not accessing education or are placed in independent provisions. This would not be a provision for students for whom SEMH is their primary category of need or barrier to learning.

We are proposing to open a 30-place provision for Secondary aged students (aged 11 -16 years of age, Years 7-11) which will be based at the Cedar Centre. The site will form part of Hill Park School, and the students will be on their roll, but their needs will not be the same as the current Hill Park cohort.

Hill Park School

Hill Park School currently has 198 pupils on roll with an age range of  2-16. The school is registered for children who have significant learning difficulties, profound or multiple difficulties, severe learning difficulties or severe autism. There are two sites, one Primary and one for Secondary aged students. Each site has 12 classes and are situated around 0.1 miles apart on Foredown Road. 

Learning disability and/or autism are the primary need across all classes. Autistic pupils at Hill Park range from having a severe learning disability through to a moderate learning disability. These students access BTECs and Entry Level Qualifications.

Cedar Centre site

The full address of the Cedar Centre is The Cedar Centre, Lynchet Close, Hollingdean, BN7 7FP.  The Cedar Centre is approximately 4miles (6.5Km) as the crow flies from the upper site of Hill Park School on Foredown Road Portslade, BN41 2FU.  The shortest route by road is just over 5.5 miles.

The building has been used as a special school site for many years, most recently as the Hollingdean site of Downs View School, the Eastern Hub for Learning Difficulties.  This use ceased in January 2021 as a result of a new extension being constructed on the Downs View Woodingdean site which allowed all the pupils to be on one site. 

A scheme has been designed for the Cedar Centre building which includes complete refurbishment and re-modelling of the building which will enable the building to meet the needs of pupils with ASC as their primary need.  £4million funding for the project is secured and included within the Education Capital Programme.   


Admissions to Hill Park School are managed in conjunction with the Local Authority. All children and young people must have an Education Health and Care Plan in order to be admitted to the school. Individual places will be allocated by the LA Special Educational Needs Panel after consultation with the school. 

Parental preference

The Local Authority is seeing an increasing number of parents expressing wish for specialist placement.  This new satellite will enable the Local Authority to satisfy more parental requests and enable children and young people to be educated within their local community.

Increased demand

Since 2015 the Local Authority has seen a 105% increase in the number of EHC plans.  In January 2022 the Local Authority maintained 2071 EHC plans.  In 2021 there were 30.4% pupils in Brighton and Hove schools with an EHC plan with a Primary Need of Autism, compared to 30.5% nationally.  The Local Authority has seen an increase in the complexity of need and children’s ability to manage in mainstream school environments.  As a result, we have seen an increase in requests for specialist placements.  This has impacted on the city’s capacity to provide local specialist placements which has resulted in a 40% increase in independent and non-maintained school (INMS) placements.

Ensuring Efficient Use of Resources

The proposed opening of the site satellite will help reduce long term pressure on the Local Authority’s High Needs Budget. The cost of educating at local provision is substantially lower than placing children and young people in the independent sector.

The city has seen a 63% increase in the spend of independent and non-maintained school placements which are not always value for money.

There will be potential benefits to the existing students in the form of access to facilities such as a gym, life skills flat and other curriculum opportunities. Expanding the school onto a separate satellite site would also provide the Local Authority with the potential to create a one year Y12 Sixth Form should the city need this in the future. This could provide a transitional model into mainstream colleges for some of the students.   

The new site will be governed by the Hill Park Governing Body and School Leadership Team. There will be a Deputy Head running the site, so it will not impact day to day on the capacity of the existing Hill Park staff. The satellite site will be staffed by teachers under the management of Hill Park

What happens next?

Feedback from the consultation will be considered by the Council’s Children, Young People & Skills Committee (CYPS). If the committee decides to continue with the proposals, statutory notices will be published following which there will be a period of four weeks during which anyone can comment or object to the proposals.

Any comments or objections received during this period will be reported to the committee which will then decide whether or not to approve the proposal.

The expected timeline for progress of the proposal is...



March 2022

School Organisation Unit are notified of consultation proposals

4th April – 29th May 2022

Public consultation phase

13th June 2022

CYPS committee to make decision on proposed changes and the publication of statutory notices to implement the changes

July – September 2022

Publication of Statutory notices

12th September 2022

Four week representation period

CYPS committee to make final decision on proposals

September 2023

Opening of satellite site  

Consultation Process

We will be running this online consultation from 4th April 2022 – 29th May 2022, and would welcome the views of residents, parent/carers, schools, and other professionals on this proposal.

We welcome feedback from everyone and this can be given by:

  • Responding to this online consultation
  • Telling us what you think at the consultation event that we have set up at The Central Hub, Lynchet Close, Hollingdean, BN7 7FP on Thursday 5th May from 5.00pm – 6.30pm
  • Emailing your comments to email address:   

We will need your feedback by 29 May 2022 for us to be able to take account of it.