Issue - meetings
Herefordshire Capital Investment Strategy 2021-2030 For Specialist Settings Educating Children and Young People with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities SEND
Meeting: 22/04/2021 - Cabinet (Item 82)
To approve the approach and recommendations within the ‘Herefordshire Capital Investment Strategy 2021-2030 for specialist settings educating children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND)’, and for Herefordshire Council to support implementation of the proposed capital improvements to specialist SEND education accommodation therein.
- Appendix 1 Herefordshire draft capital investment strategy for special education needs and disability (SEND) 2020-2030, item 82 PDF 429 KB
- Appendix 2 Consultation Summary - SEND capital investment strategy 2021 - 2030, item 82 PDF 292 KB
The cabinet member children and families introduced the report on the proposed strategy to improve the stock of SEND schools in the county.
The schools capital investment advisor and head of additional needs explained the background to the report and the next steps proposed, supported by the assistant director education development and skills.
The position of the council’s high needs budget was commended as Herefordshire was one of very few councils not to be in a deficit. The work of the strategic finance manager and support of the schools forum in achieving this was praised by cabinet members and others in attendance. The approach of special schools in the county in meeting the needs of pupils that other council’s might have placed in independent provision was also highlighted as contributing factor.
Cabinet members discussed the report and proposed strategy. It was noted that:
· It was important that projections were as robust as possible and the right balance struck in the type and number of special school places provided;
· The academic performance of special schools in the county was good;
· Consultation on possible changes to provision should involve children and young people as well as parents/carers and school staff;
· Documents needed to be in plain English wherever possible;
· Transport for pupils with SEND sometimes involved long journeys, it was hoped that the strategy would reduce the numbers of these by increasing the number of pupils retained locally although the complexity of some pupils’ needs would still necessitate placements outside the county;
· A review of all school transport was about to commence and transport for SEND pupils would be considered once the strategy was in place;
· Development of additional provision for a particular group of pupils with autism, who were often placed outside the county, would reduce travel times and the cost of placements;
· An equality impact assessment should be completed for the overall strategy, not just for each individual project within it.
The chair of the children and young people scrutiny committee gave feedback from the committee’s consideration of the strategy. The committee had generally welcomed the plan but had expressed concerns about the potential closure of the sixth form provision at Westfield School. It was recognised that the current buildings were in poor condition, did not meet the latest national guidelines and that expansion on the current site was not possible. However loss of the sixth form would increase travel times for pupils in the north of the county and it was important that proper consultation was carried out before a decision was taken.
Cabinet members were assured that feasibility work would look at both a 2-16 and a 2-19 option for the Westfield site and that the views of the headteacher and the community would be listened to.
Group leaders presented the views and queries of their respective groups. The strategy was generally supported and it was noted that:
· The strategy should be incorporated into the overall schools capital investment strategy;
· It was important to include pupils with SEND ... view the full minutes text for item 82
To consider the outcomes of the Herefordshire Capital Investment Strategy 2021-2030 For Specialist Settings Educating Children and Young People with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities SEND consultation and to determine any recommendations to the executive, which may enhance the effectiveness of the plans.
- Appendix 1 Herefordshire draft capital investment strategy for special education needs and disability (SEND) 2020-2030, item 32 PDF 441 KB
- Appendix 2 Consultation Summary - SEND capital investment strategy 2021 - 2030, item 32 PDF 293 KB
(Mr Andy James fulfilled the role of a witness and had no vote on this item.)
The committee considered a report from the cabinet member children and families concerning the Herefordshire Capital Investment Strategy 2021-2030 For Specialist Settings Educating Children and Young People with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities SEND. The head of additional needs and the schools capital investment adviser introduced the report.
Mr James spoke as a witness and read aloud a statement from the Westfield Governing Body. He requested that the feasibility study covers 2-16 and 16-19 age ranges and that it is not limited to 2-16 before the consultation concerning the future of the sixth form at Westfield School was undertaken. The wording in the strategy document suggested that the decision had already been made.
The schools capital investment adviser provided detail concerning the proposals in the report concerning the Westfield School and the process undertaken to develop the proposals. She explained that the feasibility study needed to be conducted urgently to avoid losing the funding set aside for this purpose by the Council. She stated that there would be a need to re-apply for funding for the feasibility study if there were to be further delay of the project when everyone agrees that improved facilities are desperately needed. The schools capital investment adviser further explained that the recommendation described in the strategy is based on the information available to date and that officers are recommending a 2-16 age range but the consultation concerning the future of the sixth form at Westfield School will further inform the decision.
Councillor Trish Marsh as the member for Leominster South spoke as the local member to the Westfield School. Support was expressed for the request that the feasibility study covers 2-16 and 16-19 age ranges and that it is not limited to 2-16 before the consultation concerning the future of the sixth form at Westfield School was undertaken.
The schools capital investment adviser explained that it had been already agreed with Westfield School governing body that the age range in the title to the feasibility study (i.e. 2-16 yrs) would be removed and the consultation on the sixth form provision undertaken once the final strategy had been agreed and published.
During the debate the committee raised the following points:
· The fire risk assessment that had been undertaken at Westfield School.
· The lack of detail in the report concerning the change to the age ranges in title of the Westfield School feasibility study.
· The suitability of the current buildings at Westfield School and the restricted nature of the site.
· A recommendation that the capital strategy clarifies that the feasibility study would cover the current full age-range at Westfield and that the consultation regarding the future of the sixth form centre would be separate. Both will inform the final Council decision.
· Detail in the strategy concerning the educational provision for children with autism and a recommendation that further detail is presented to the committee at a later date following discussion ... view the full minutes text for item 32