Detailed vision to secure future provision for SEND pupils moves to next phase
"It is so important we continue working with our families, pupils and schools as we take this forward so we can create something really special that will serve our young people well for years to come."Cllr Pauline Church, Cabinet Member for Children, Education and Skills
Detailed plans on how Wiltshire can secure the best provision for SEND pupils to meet rising demand and ensure high standards will be discussed by council leaders.
Wiltshire Council has consulted with parents, pupils, schools and the community as it prepares long-term plans to invest in special education for the future.
The need to provide additional space is urgent as an additional 220 spaces are needed across the county.
At a cabinet meeting on Tuesday 19 November, cabinet leaders will be asked to approve a number of recommendations, including:
- The establishment of a new, maintained special school with a single leadership team to work across all three sites of St Nicholas, Rowdeford and Larkrise schools. This would be implemented no later than 1 September 2021
- The closure of St Nicholas, Rowdeford and Larkrise Schools as separate schools, as a related proposal no later than 31 August 2021
- Expansion on the existing Rowdeford site to accommodate up to 400 pupils as part of the new special school by September 2023
- Approve that the sites of St Nicholas and Larkrise stay in use until the new provision is ready, and it is appropriate for children to transition to the new site at Rowdeford. This is to be established by approval by cabinet of further consultation on the appropriateness of transferring the provision of St Nicholas and Larkrise to the Rowdeford site no later than 12 months before opening all the new provision. This consultation would be determined by the demand for places, views of stakeholders and wider development of inclusive education for children and young people with SEND living in Wiltshire.
Cllr Pauline Church, Cabinet Member for Children, Education and Skills, said: "We are committed to creating an outstanding, personalised education for all our SEND pupils in safe, supportive, stimulating learning environments so they can thrive. I am grateful to all the parents, schools and local communities for providing a wide range of views and helping shape what we are proposing to meet those needs.
"It is so important we continue working with our families, pupils and schools as we take this forward so we can create something really special that will serve our young people well for years to come."
Stuart Hall, Strategic Director of the Wiltshire Parent Carer Council said: "This has been an emotive issue for parent carers. Parent carers have informed the recommendations with passion, and Wiltshire Council has listened and amended the proposals for consultation in response. It is important that we move forward in developing a SEND system of excellence across Wiltshire that most appropriately meets the individual needs of all children and young people with SEND, and enables them to thrive."
Jan Winfield, Vice Chair of Governors at Larkrise and representative for the SEND Action Parents said: "We are pleased Wiltshire Council is committed to working with parent/carers and governors to ensure the best possible outcomes for children with SEND in Wiltshire, both now and in the future. We want to see a joined up approach in which our proposed three-site special school works together with our mainstream schools and resource bases to deliver outstanding education and care to all our most vulnerable children. We look forward to continuing to work with Wiltshire Council in an open and transparent manner for the benefit of all our young people and their families."
If cabinet approves the recommendations, the council would present a proposal to the School's Adjudicator to open a new, amalgamated maintained special school.