Proposal to establish a special educational needs facility at Robertsbridge Community College

Closed 10 Oct 2019

Opened 20 Sep 2019

Overview

East Sussex County Council is proposing to establish a special educational needs (SEN) facility at Robertsbridge Community College from 1 September 2020.  The facility would accommodate 12 secondary age pupils with a primary need of specific learning difficulties, with associated special educational needs (eg. anxiety and high functioning autism).

This consultation will be open for your comments until Friday 11 October 2019.

Why do we need to establish a SEN facility at Robertsbridge Community College?

Following a review of special education needs (SEN) provision in the county East Sussex County Council (ESCC) concluded that there is a gap in specialist provision in mainstream secondary schools for pupils with a primary need of autism in the east of the county. To address this provision gap, ESCC is consulting on a proposal to establish a specialist facility for 12 secondary age pupils at Robertsbridge Community College. The specialist facility would open in September 2020.

There are already a number of specialist facilities for primary age pupils in the east of the county. Developing a new secondary facility in this area would allow progression for pupils and continuity of support to aid the transition of pupils for whom a secondary facility is the most appropriate next stage. This will assist in reducing the increasing trend of transition from mainstream primary school to special secondary schools.  Providing early intervention at the start of their secondary phase through a facility place will address needs and enable pupil’s integration into the mainstream school.

What are specialist facilities?

Specialist facilities are located within a mainstream school and provide specific support to a limited number of pupils with an education and health care plan (EHCP) naming a specific primary SEN.  Pupils within the facility are on roll of the mainstream school and are in addition to the published admission number.  The school receives additional funding from ESCC to support the pupil.  Placements are determined by ESCC according to clear criteria and will be drawn from a wider geographical area than the school’s usual catchment.

The aspiration in East Sussex is that specialist facilities promote an ethos of inclusion and help integrate their pupils into the mainstream school for as much of their learning time as their needs allow.  The facility should also provide access to a base within the school for more intensive support when required.  The East Sussex model increasingly expects that the expertise of staff within the facility provide significant benefits to the rest of the school and other schools in the local area to support all pupils with SEN and create a fully inclusive learning environment.

Pupils in the facility will have their special educational needs reviewed regularly in discussion with parents/carers and professionals to ensure that the facility remains the most appropriate placement to meet these needs.

What will be the impact of the new facility on other pupils in the school?

We expect the new facility would have a positive impact on provision at the school.  Specialist staff would work with pupils in the new facility and also work with teaching staff across the school to develop skills and expertise in responding to SEN needs and creating an inclusive environment.

Will building work be required to establish the new facility and, if so, how will this be funded?

Yes, ESCC working with Robertsbridge Community College has identified an area of the site on which new accommodation could be built. ESCC would fund the building work from its approved capital programme.

Are there site plans to show how the school would be expanded?

ESCC has appointed a design team to work up plans for the new accommodation.  Design plans would be shared with interested parties at a pre-planning consultation event at the school. All stakeholders, including local residents, would have the opportunity to view the plans, ask questions and make comments.  This would enable the design team to take into consideration everyone’s views before a planning application is submitted.

You would have a further opportunity to comment on the plans as part of the planning application process which is separate to this consultation.

How would the school deal with any possible increase in traffic and congestion?

A traffic and parking assessment would be undertaken as part of the design and planning process.  The school’s travel plan would need to be updated and would be utilised by the school to reduce traffic congestion.

Would the school need to close during building work?

No. The building project would be planned carefully, and contractors will work with the school to ensure that works are scheduled to keep disruption to a minimum. The building site would be a secure area to ensure the health and safety of the pupils, staff, parents/carers, and visitors to the school.

Why We Are Consulting

We want to hear from local residents, parent/carers and other interested parties about establishing a SEN facility within Robertsbridge Community College.  Your views will help us to understand the potential impact of providing the facility and to find out what we could do to deal with any worries you may have.

How to take part in this consultation:

The consultation runs from 20 September 2019 to 10 October 2019.  Please complete this online questionnaire to share your views.  If you would prefer to complete a paper copy please download the printable consultation document available in the 'Related' section at the bottom of the previous page and send it to: The Strategy and Engagement Team, South H, East Sussex County Council, County Hall, St Anne’s Crescent, Lewes, East Sussex BN7 1UE. 

What Happens Next

The consultation has now closed. Thank you for your feedback.  

Following the consultation period, a report on the outcome of the consultation will be considered by the Lead Member for Education, Inclusion and Special Educational Needs and Disability at a meeting in November 2019.  The Lead Member will decide whether to proceed with the proposal.  If approved, a statutory notice would be published in the local newspaper, followed by a period of four weeks when further comments or objections could be submitted. The Lead Member would consider any responses received during this time before making a final decision on whether to approve the proposal at a meeting likely to be held in January 2020.

Areas

  • Lewes

Audiences

  • Community groups or organisations
  • Voluntary groups or organisations
  • Public sector groups or organisations
  • Residents panel

Interests

  • Disability
  • Mental health
  • Learning disability or difficulty