What this consultation is about
Brackenfield is a South Derbyshire special school for children from 4 to16 years old. Over the last 3 years they have streamlined their offer to become a specialist school for pupils with communication and comprehension difficulties. All pupils are significantly cognitively impaired, operating developmentally between 0 and 6 years of age.
The school support pupils’ learning and journey into adulthood through a curriculum based on life skills and skill generalisation. Pupils are not taught in chronological age groups, they are placed in class groups dependent on their cognitive, sensory, social emotional and communication needs. Classes are organised into pathways. All pupils are placed in a pathway however some may have some of their education in another pathway based on their individual needs. Pupils may move pathways in their school career or even in a year.
We're proposing to alter the lower age limit of the school from 4 years to 3 years by extending the provision to include both foundation stage 1 and foundation stage 2 children (from the age of 3 instead of 4). The school already has adequate staffing and premises to make this alteration without significant changes being required and with minimal disruption to the existing provision. This means that, if the proposal is implemented, the school will be able to offer families a seamless and comprehensive education programme for children from the age of 3 years.
We anticipate that, working with the existing premises and staff, the school will be able to offer the full government entitlement of 15 hours up to 27.5 hours of provision of free early years education. If the proposal is implemented, it is anticipated that the school will be able to accommodate 8 three / four year-olds within the setting.
If the proposal is implemented, the school will utilise the existing highly qualified staff, which includes both teachers, STLAs and LSAs that are trained in early years provision and staff that have extensive experience of working with this age group. If required; the school would also recruit new staff to support this provision or the existing provision within the school.
The school could accommodate up to 8 3-year-olds from September 2021. The school runs its academic year from June to June which means that these pupils could have transition and visit days prior to the summer holidays. This supports parental anxiety and allows pupils to have some familiarity with the space, staff, school and peers.
The staffing ratio depends on the needs of the children and the requirements within their EHCPs but the expected model would be a teacher; 2 STLAs and potentially an LSA as well. In addition to these class staff the school employs health and personal care staff to further support with medical, health and personal and intimate care needs. There is also a well established children’s service team which provides extensive early help and support to families.
We receive funding from the government, in the form of the High Needs Spending Block for children with EHCPs where Brackenfield SEND School has been named within Section I. All pupils would have access to 15 hours of provision and up to the full-time provision at Brackenfield which is currently 27.5 hours. The school would be funded 50% of the place fee and top-up fee for any child attending less than 2.5 days a week and 100% of any child attending more than 2.5 days a week.
If the proposal is implemented, the school will receive its funding for eligible children from the on roll date. For pupils that fell within the 112 bought Derbyshire County Council places additional funding for the top up would be given to school. Any pupil falling outside the 112 bought places would secure the placement fee and site specific funding in addition to the top up funding. Top up funding amounts are discussed between the headteacher and LA on consultation.
Following the statutory consultation, the responses will be reported to Cabinet to inform a decision on the proposal.
Cabinet approved the proposals on the 8 July 2021.