Katie Price in Kent special needs free school bid

Katie Price with Harvey
Image caption Katie Price's son Harvey, who is visually impaired, has just celebrated his 10th birthday

Katie Price is among a group of parents who want to set up a free school in Kent for children with visual impairment and other disabilities.

Her 10-year-old son Harvey will be among the pupils if the school is given the go-ahead by the government.

"There are other schools for Harvey but they are not the standard we think [the children] need," she said.

The Royal London Society for the Blind (RLSB) said it wished the free school the best of luck.

The charity runs a school in Kent which Harvey currently attends, but it is due to close.

Ms Price, who lives in West Sussex, has been working with her mother Amy and other parents at Harvey's present school on the bid.

Behaviour problems

Amy Price was among parents who attended a meeting at the Department for Education (DfE) to put their case for government funding. They expect to receive a decision in July.

The parents were advised by human rights lawyers and writer Toby Young, who set up the first free school in Hammersmith, west London, last year.

Ms Price said she believed Harvey needed to be at a special school which could cater for his disabilities.

"I strongly believe that without the support Harvey has had at his school and our help he wouldn't be as forward as he is now," she said.

Image caption Katie Price's mother Amy attended a meeting at the Department for Education to support the parents' bid

"You definitely need to stimulate the children in the right way. It is to do with the support - they have speech therapy and they have their music."

She said the proposed school, which would be for children who already have a statement of special educational needs, could have as many as 90 pupils. So far the parents of 45 children have expressed interest.

"Harvey has got so many needs and behaviour problems," said Amy Price. "These are children that no other school can really cater for and offer the education or the therapies they need."

Katie Price said she would not be running the school and did not want to be seen as a figurehead.

"I am a parent," she said. "I haven't used my status at all and I wouldn't because it's not about me, it is about the kids."

But she and her mother said that if the school was approved others could be set up elsewhere in England.

"If this one is successful and we achieve what we want to, we plan to do it around the country, but we have got to start with this one first," said Amy Price.

Families and friends

Tom Pey, chief executive of RLSB, said the charity had looked closely at the free school idea.

"We formed the view, based on a lot of experience and a lot of thought, that going out into the communities and educating young children where they can be with their friends, their families and with their communities is far better," he said.

"That is not to say that we have anything against the free school and we are aware that a free school is being thought about.

"We wish that the very best of luck as well because blind young people need all the help they can get."

Kent County Council said it supported the proposal, providing the new school could deliver the good and outstanding education that this group of children and young people needed and deserved.

A DfE spokeswoman said: "Our free schools programme allows parents, teachers and charities the chance to set up schools to meet the needs of local children.

"A number of free schools for children with special educational needs are already in the pipeline and we welcome applications from other passionate people who want to set up new schools.

"As taxpayers would expect, all applications are carefully assessed and must meet strict criteria."

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