Bath & North East Somerset Council
Cllr Christopher Watt, Cabinet Member for Children's Service
On or after 11th October 2008
Determination of Statutory Notice proposal to change the lower age limit at The Link Centre special school Bath
EXECUTIVE FORWARD PLAN REFERENCE:
All but particularly Lyncombe ward
AN OPEN PUBLIC ITEM
List of attachments to this report: None
1 THE ISSUE
1.1 The Link Centre special school Bath currently provides 40 places for pupils aged 9-16 years with Behavioural Emotional and Social Difficulties (BESD). The LA has published a statutory notice outlining their proposal to lower the age range at The Link Centre special school in order to admit children aged 4-8 years and thus change the age range of the school from 9-16 years to 4-16 years.
The Cabinet member is asked to agree that:
2.1 The lower age limit at The Link Centre should be altered in order to accommodate pupils aged 4-8 years commencing on 1st November 2008.
3 FINANCIAL IMPLICATIONS
3.1 It will be necessary to remodel and refurbish some of the school's accommodation to provide facilities for the younger children. The capital cost of the work required is estimated to be £200,000. This will be met from the NDS Modernisation capital funding of £5.7m which is available for allocation for the period 2008-2011 to meet highest priority issues at Bath and North East Somerset schools.
3.2 The revenue costs of £65,937.68 will be met from the delegated schools grant for special schools. There will be no increase on current levels of revenue spending as the above sum already forms part of the existing revenue funding for The Link Centre.
4 CORPORATE PRIORITIES
- Improving life chances of disadvantaged teenagers and young people
- Improving school buildings
5 THE REPORT
5.1 A recent review of Bath and North East Somerset primary age Behavioural Emotional and Social Difficulties provision, commissioned by the Local Authority Children's Service and the three Area Placement and Support Panels, identified three key areas for development.
5.2 Firstly, a need to redress the imbalance between resources and support available to primary pupils, compared to the relatively high levels of support provided for secondary pupils. Secondly, a need to focus on early intervention for Foundation/Key Stage 1 pupils who may have difficulty sustaining a mainstream school placement. Thirdly, a need to focus on supporting the transition of year 6 / 7 pupils who may experience difficulty transferring to secondary school.
5.3 A series of discussions followed with Head Teachers and Local Authority officers. These discussions were informed by a series of reports, such as the Audit Commission Report (2002), which identified that pupils with BESD were less likely to be accepted into schools and more likely to be permanently excluded. The government strategy `Removing Barriers to Achievement' recognized the need for schools and services to work together to deliver support for vulnerable children.
5.4 The `Every Child Matters' initiative built on these strategies by providing a common framework to support students/children and their families, with its main focus on preventative work and the integration of all services for children.
5.5 The extended age range will enable the school to make full use of its current primary provision and to support early intervention with children and their families. Separate accommodation for primary aged pupils will be provided and the provision will be managed, within the overall management of The Link Centre Special School, as a separate Primary Development Centre.
5.6 Placement of pupils in the Primary Development Centre will be through a statement of Special Educational Need and/or with agreement of the Local Authority. The provision will complement other provisions within the Local Authority and support the continuum of provision for pupils experiencing BESD. In total, twelve places for primary aged pupils will be made available in the Primary Development Centre.
6 RISK MANAGEMENT
6.1 The report author and Cabinet member have fully reviewed the risk assessment related to the issue and recommendations, in compliance with the Council's decision making risk management guidance.
7.1 A proportionate equalities impact assessment has been carried using corporate guidelines.
8.1 To increase the availability of all through primary provision in order to meet an identified need for younger pupils requiring special school provision for Behavioural Emotional and Social Difficulties.
8.2 It is anticipated that earlier intervention when children with Behavioural Emotional and Social Difficulties are younger will reduce the amount of time young learners need to spend in special school provision.
8.3 To provide an intensive support package in order to secure a future mainstream placement.
8.4 To avoid exclusions for younger aged pupils who experience difficulties in maintaining their mainstream school place.
9 OTHER OPTIONS CONSIDERED
10.1 Ward Councillor; Trades Unions; Staff; Other B&NES Services; Service Users; Stakeholders/Partners; Other Public Sector Bodies; Section 151 Finance Officer; Chief Executive; Monitoring Officer.
10.2 Six consultation responses were received - two expressed some concerns and four were in support of the proposal.
10.3 Consultation was carried out as follows:
(a) Consultation on the broad strategy to increase the availability of all through BESD primary provision:
- Primary and secondary head teachers at three local Area Education Improvement Partnerships to improve behaviour and attendance.
- Standing Agenda item at three weekly meetings during the academic year 2007 - 2008.
- Schools Forum.
- Specialist Behaviour Service (SBS) Review day. (The views of persons consulted led to the final paper).
- The Local authority/Children's Service Behaviour Strategy Steering Group.
- The Link Centre Special School and SBS primary behaviour working group.
(b) Consultation on the specific proposal to lower the age range at The Link Centre:
- The Link Centre Special School governing body - full board meeting.
- The Link Centre Special School staff.
- Primary children at the Link Centre Special School.
- Parents/carers of pupils at The Link Centre Special School.
- Future pupils and their parents/carers.
- Headteachers and governing bodies of all primary schools in B&NES.
- Headteachers and governing bodies of all special schools in B&NES.
- B&NES PCT.
- The NHS/Health Service - Royal United Hospital Bath.
- The LSC.
- The RC and CofE diocese.
- The MP for Bath.
- The local Ward Councillors of the ward in which The Link Centre is situated.
- Other Local Authorities: Bristol City Council, North Somerset Council, South Gloucestershire Council, Wiltshire County Council.
- Trade Unions representing staff at The Link Centre.
- Bath and North East Somerset Early Years and Extended Services.
Consultation documents were made available by email, circulated in advance of meetings and hard copies handed out at meetings. Also hard copies were given to parents/carers and posted to other consultees.
10.4 The statutory notice was then published in The Bath Chronicle, The Bristol Evening Post and The Western Daily Press. The notice was also posted outside the main entrance to the school, at the main entrance itself and in a local Post Office. A copy of the notice was sent to all consultees (as listed in section (b) above) and also to the MP for Wansdyke. An email reminder was sent to all primary and special schools at the start of the new term in September.
10.5 The statutory representation period lasted for six weeks from 14th August 2008 to 25th September 2008 during which time three comments were received - two in support of the proposal and one seeking clarification on numbers currently attending the school and the impact of the change in age range with the school intake number remaining unchanged.
11 ISSUES TO CONSIDER IN REACHING THE DECISION
11.1 Social Inclusion; Customer Focus; Human Resources; Property; Young People; Human Rights; Health & Safety; Impact on Staff; Other Legal Considerations
12 ADVICE SOUGHT
12.1 The Council's Monitoring Officer (Council Solicitor) and Section 151 Officer (Strategic Director - Support Services) have had the opportunity to input to this report and have cleared it for publication.
Helen Hoynes 01225 395169
Statutory Notice: Proposal to change the lower age limit at The Link Centre special school, Frome Road, Bath
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