Agenda item

Herefordshire Capital Investment Strategy 2021-2030 For Specialist Settings Educating Children and Young People with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities SEND

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.


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 in mainstream schools as much as possible;

·         The opening of the new Beacon college for 16+ students with SEND would be an important step forward;

·         It was pleasing that the high needs budget was not in deficit but there was very little contingency remaining and the council could not be complacent.


The cabinet member children and families closed the debate noting that equality of opportunities in education was a key focus of the strategy and that a balance would have to be struck in the provision made to achieve that equality of opportunity for all children.


It was unanimously agreed that:


a)    Cabinet adopts 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)’ (hereafter referred to as ‘the strategy’)


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