Approval has been given for two new free special schools in the county. 

One is a 210-place, multiple needs school in March and the other a 60-place school in Gamlingay for children with social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) needs. 

The next stage in the process is to invite multi-academy trusts to apply to run the new schools. 

Cambridgeshire has already invested £60m in creating 150 new special school places at new or existing schools, but more are needed. 

The March school is due to open in September 2026 and will cater for young people, aged two to 19, of all genders. 

Alongside a general need for extra special school places across the county, there is a particular need for more places in Fenland. 

Fenland is currently the least well served district in Cambridgeshire for special needs, with Meadowgate Academy in Wisbech being the only special school in the area. 

Children in the district can face lengthy journeys to and from the nearest school able to meet their needs. 

The Gamlingay school, which will be on the site previously occupied by the former Gamlingay First School, is due to open in September 2025 and will admit pupils with SEMH. 

In the Gamlingay area, there is a particular demand for provision for girls whose SEMH needs result in challenging behaviour.  

At present, girls either travel out of county, attend an independent school or are educated at home through 1:1 tuition.  

A primary feature of the new school in Gamlingay is that it will be co-educational. 

Gamlingay, whilst at the far south of the county, is relatively easily accessed by residents of Huntingdonshire, Cambridge, South Cambridgeshire and much of East Cambridgeshire.  

Some Fenland residents would also find Gamlingay accessible, for example residents of Chatteris which is 47 minutes away by car. 

The population density of the south of the county is greater, meaning that more places are likely to be needed in the south than the north of the county in the long term.  

The road network is more developed in the south of the county than in the north, making it more accessible with shorter journey times. 

Chair of Cambridgeshire County Council’s children and young people’s committee, Cllr Bryony Goodliffe, said: “I am delighted that the government has given us the go-ahead to establish these two much-needed special schools.  

“We are making significant progress in meeting the need for more special school places, but this announcement will enable us to create many more places. 

“We now need to find sponsors who can develop innovative, first-rate educational institutions for children and young people in Cambridgeshire with the most complex needs.”