Proposal to make a prescribed alteration to The Acorns Primary and Nursery School

School and Local Authority Details

The proposal to remove Resourced Provision for Children with Complex and Multiple Learning Difficulties from The Acorns Primary and Nursery School, Pooltown Road, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, CH65 7ED is being published by Cheshire West and Chester Borough Council, 4 Civic Way, Ellesmere Port, CH65 0BE. Contact Name and Address: Carolyn Davis, Senior Manager, Education Infrastructure (Nicholas House), 4 Civic Way, Ellesmere Port, CH65 0BE. 

The proposal

The proposal is to remove the seven-place Resourced Provision for Children with Complex and Multiple Learning Difficulties (CMLD) from The Acorns Primary and Nursery (The Acorns) to take effect from 01 September 2021.  The proposal is being made at the request of the governing body of the school.

Consultation

The Council held a formative consultation on the proposal from 08 February to 14 March 2021. Having considered the response to the consultation and had further discussion with the governing body (GB) of the school the Council now propose to proceed to the formal stage of ‘Notice and Representation’. A period of formal consultation will run from 22 April 2021 to 19 May 2021.

Any person or organisation may submit comments to the Council on the proposal and these must be taken into account by the decision-maker who will be the Cabinet Member for Children and Families. The decision must be made in accordance with statutory guidance. 

Description of alteration and evidence of demand

The Council has been requested by the governing GB of the The Acorns to close the school’s Resourced Provision for children with CMLD because the number of children being placed in the provision is insufficient to cover the costs of staffing it. The GB believe provision cannot be sustained beyond the current academic year without this financial deficit potentially having a detrimental impact on the education of the remainder of the school’s pupils. 

The Council is willing to consider this proposal because it believes there will be sufficient capacity in remaining provision to meet the needs of those pupils who cannot be supported to attend mainstream school settings.

The Council believe the funding released from the ‘High Needs’ Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) budget, by not having to support this undersubscribed provision, can more effectively be used to support children with similar needs to attend mainstream provision.

How children with CMLD currently attending or those who might in the future have attended The Acorns Resourced Provision will now be educated

Of the pupils currently registered some have already planned to make transitions to other schools in September 2021 and it is expected will do so irrespective of the outcome of this proposal. For those pupils whose parents wish for them to stay at The Acorns, the school are confident their needs can continue to be met with appropriate support in the school’s mainstream classes, whilst still providing them with the stability and familiarity they have grown accustomed to. There are no new starters scheduled to join the Resourced Provision.

In the event of a decision in favour of the proposal, then for those pupils who might have attended in the future, there is other CMLD Resourced Provision within Cheshire West and Chester with available places. However, more parents are choosing for their children to be educated within their local mainstream settings with support, this has contributed to the reduction in demand for places at this provision. 

The effect on other schools within the area

The saving resulting from implementation of the proposal provides an opportunity for the Council to enhance the support available to mainstream schools to successfully meet the needs of children with special educational needs.

There are current vacancies in other local CMLD Resourced Provision. This proposal will help consolidate provision in those that remain. This will be to the financial advantage of those schools.

Project costs and indication of how these will be met, including how long-term value for money will be achieved

Removal of the Resourced Provision will provide a saving of £119,875 to the Council’s SEND budget. This saving will be used to provide enhanced support to enable children with SEND to access their local mainstream school settings through the commissioning of an increased level of outreach work from specialist staff located in special schools. This potentially expands the range of preferences open to parents of children with CMLD by enhancing the capacity of local schools to meet their child’s needs.

Under-occupancy of the Resourced Provision is costing the school £21,375 in the current academic year, potentially rising to £35,625 in the next academic year. The school’s budget for mainstream provision, which would otherwise be required to underwrite this shortfall, will now remain available for the purpose for which it was intended; better enabling the school to meet the needs of all children on roll.

How the accommodation previously used to accommodate the Resourced Provision is proposed to be used

The Resourced Provision is accommodated in a small classroom, suitable for a class of up to 10 older pupils. It is envisaged that it will be used as a Key Stage 2 intervention / break-out classroom where small groups of pupils can work with a teacher or teaching assistant for specific sessions, lessons or interventions throughout the day and week. As such it will remain a resource that can assist the integration and education of children with additional needs.

Implementation and any proposed stages for implementation

If approved by the decision-maker (and subject to there being no appeal by Chester or Shrewsbury Dioceses to the Schools Adjudicator) it is proposed that removal of the Resourced Provision will take effect from 01 September 2021. 

The procedure for responses: support; objections and comments

A public notice will be published on the Cheshire West and Chester Borough Council website on Thursday 22 April 2021.

A public notice announcing the start of a period of public representations is to be published in the Chester and District Standard on Thursday 22 April 2021. 

Within four weeks from the date of publication, any person may send in a response supporting, objecting or commenting on the proposal;

All responses received will be shared with the decision-maker, the Cabinet Member for Children and Families. Full details of how we manage the information provided by respondents can be found at: 

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