Consultation on a proposal to extend the designation of the existing specialist facility at Wallands Community Primary School from 1 September 2022, to also include pupils aged 4-11 with a primary need of Autistic Spectrum Disorder.

Closed 17 Jun 2021

Opened 14 May 2021

Overview

Wallands Community Primary School has a designated specialist facility for up to 16 pupils aged 4-11 with speech, language and communication needs.  East Sussex County Council is proposing to extend the designation of the existing specialist facility at Wallands Community Primary School from 1 September 2022, to also include pupils aged 4-11 with a primary need of Autistic Spectrum Disorder.

Why we are consulting

Why do we want to extend the designation of the specialist facility at Wallands Community Primary School?
We wish to extend the designation to ensure that the facility can meet the needs of local pupils with special education needs (SEN), reflecting the changes we are seeing to the type of SEN being presented.

Since 2019/20 the number of pupils within the facility has fallen, with numbers under capacity each month.  This is demonstrated in the table below.

This table shows that the numbers of pupils within the specialist facility at Wallands Community Primary School has been falling since September 2015.

The decrease in pupil numbers is in line with the trend we are seeing across the county of fewer pupils with Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) presenting with a primary need of speech, language and communication needs. Since 2014/15 the number of primary age pupils with an EHCP for speech, language and communication needs has decreased from 329 pupils to 218 in 2020/21.  Over the same time period, the number with an EHCP for autistic spectrum disorder has risen from 298 to 406. Our SEN forecasts are projecting that these trends will continue.

This bar graph shows in orange that the number of children in East Sussex with an EHCP for speech, language and communication needs has decreased.  It shows in blue that the number of children presenting with an EHCP for autistic spectrum disorder has increased.

Wallands Community Primary School has worked closely with the local authority over the last five years to expand the range of special educational needs that can be met within the facility.  This has resulted in pupils with a broader spectrum of need than speech, language and communication needs being supported by the facility and an increasing number of pupils with autistic spectrum disorder needs in addition to speech, language and communication needs.

Across East Sussex there are three primary specialist facilities for pupils aged 4-11 with autistic spectrum disorder as their primary need, including new facilities at Churchwood Primary Academy in Hastings and Grovelands Community Primary School in Hailsham.  Our SEN forecasting has identified that there is a need for more specialist facilities that cater for pupils with this need, including in Lewes.

Having taken into consideration the changing nature of the type of SEN needs being presented and forecast in East Sussex, we propose to extend the designation of  the specialist facility at Wallands Community Primary School from 1 September 2022, to also include pupils aged 4-11 with a primary need of autistic spectrum disorder, with associated speech, language and communication needs.

What are specialist facilities?
Specialist facilities are located within a mainstream school and provide specific support to a limited number of pupils with an 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 the local authority to support each child placed in the facility.  Placements are determined by the local authority according to clear criteria and will be drawn from a wider geographical area than the school’s usual catchment area.

Specialist facilities provide pupils with EHCPs access to specialist support, whilst also allowing pupils to benefit from accessing mainstream provision and to be part of a mainstream school. A dedicated space within a school provides a base, support space and teaching space. Specialist facilities play a critical role in the strategy for re-integration and the development of an inclusion ethos and inclusion practices across the school’s wider curriculum and provision. They also allow local schools to develop broader expertise for SEN which, in turn, benefits the school population as a whole.

Pupils in the facility 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 extending of the designation on other pupils in the school?
We expect the proposal to have a positive impact on provision at the school.  Specialist staff will continue to work with pupils in the 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.

Should the proposed change go ahead, new pupils admitted to the facility from September 2022 would include those with a primary need of autistic spectrum disorder, alongside pupils with a primary need of speech, language and communication needs.  We feel that the facility is well placed to support children with both, or either, of these needs.

Will building work be required to establish the new facility and, if so, how will this be funded?
No.  The school already has a specialist facility on site which will accommodate up to 14 children.  The local authority has recently completed work on a project to improve the accommodation and to integrate the facility, which had been located in a detached modular building, into the main school building.

Why we are consulting on the proposed change
The local authority has a statutory responsibility to secure sufficient school places, including for pupils with SEN.  Before we can extend the designation of the facility, we are required to consult with the school community and key stakeholders.  We are proposing the change to ensure that we can secure local provision for primary aged pupils with speech, language and communication needs, and those with autistic spectrum disorder in the Lewes area for the future.

The Council is seeking the views of parents/carers, staff, governors and stakeholders on the proposal.

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What happens next

Following the consultation period, a report will be considered by the Lead Member for Education, Inclusion and Special Educational Needs and Disability at a meeting in July 2021. The Lead Member will decide whether to proceed with the proposal.  If approved, a statutory notice would be published in the local newspaper probably in August 2021 followed by a period of four weeks, known as the representation period, 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 the proposal at a meeting likely to be held in October 2021. If approved, the facility would accept children with a primary need of autistic spectrum disorder from 1 September 2022.

Areas

  • Lewes

Audiences

  • Anybody with an interest

Interests

  • Schools and school admissions