David Atterbury introduced the report which gives an update on the development of new SEND provisions as part of the High Needs Block Development Plan.
David stated that this update reflects the position presented to Cabinet on 24 May 2019. David firstly gave an update on the establishment of new SEND places. The expansion of all 6 special schools will take place over the next 2 years and there are 15 new SEND units being established. There will also be a new 50 place Social, Emotional, Mental Health Needs (SEMH) School in South Leicestershire, mostly likely in Lutterworth and a similar sized SEMH school located at Shepshed Iveshead campus as part of a successful DfE free school bid.
In terms of Post-16 SEND places there is new provision planned for Maplewell Hall School located on the Charnwood College campus.
The new 80-place Communication and Interaction School, to be located in Barwell, is progressing well and is currently at the second stage of assessments. After the final stage of assessment (visits by the Council to existing similar academy currently operated by the applicant) recommendations of potential academy sponsors will be put forward to the Regional Schools Commissioner for a decision to be made to ensure the new school remains on schedule for September 2020 opening.
David outlined the plans to replace the hearing impaired unit at Beauchamp, the expansion of the Early Years provision at Wigston Menphys and Oakfield aspirations to develop north and south provision. Overall there are now 27 projects ranging from expansion of existing special schools, new C & I or SEMH resource bases and longer term new special schools. There are 2 key risks to delivery of the programme they relate to DfE consents for change and affordability of capital schemes.
David explained that the public consultation exercise closed on 31 March and the outcome was presented to Cabinet on 24 May 2019. The consultation responses were very supportive and David expressed his thanks to those who responded. There have been no objections received to the Statutory Notice during the representation period so, as agreed by the Cabinet in March, the Director of Children and Families Services will determine the Notice to allow the various SEND developments in maintained schools to proceed, particularly those planned to open in September 2019.
Jenny outlined the funding arrangements and the proposals for a one-off start-up allocation of £50,000, and a fixed allocation of £28,600 for each occupied place in the first year of opening for the new units. A letter has been sent to each school concerned to confirm the funding arrangements. There is no decision required from Schools Forum.
Suzanne Uprichard asked how children will be allocated to the new units and transport will be dealt with. David confirmed that pupils will be allocated by SENA, hence must have an EHCP. Transport will operate in accordance with the revised policy agreed by Cabinet. It is expected that as there will be more local provision over time the dependency on transport may reduce (bearing in mind also proposals for personal budgets).
Schools Forum noted:
a) Details of the new SEND units;
b) The funding model for those units;
c) The outcome of the County Council bid to seek Department for Education funding to establish a 50-place free school for pupils with Social, Emotional and Mental Health needs;
d) The planned Interviews of academy proposers (sponsors) to operate the new Communication and Interaction school in Barwell, which is in keeping with the requirements placed upon the Council by section 6A (the Free School Presumption) of the Education and Inspections Act 2006, as introduced by the Education Act 2011.