The Acorns Primary and Nursery consultation

Closing date: 14 March 2021

Cheshire West and Chester Borough Council is consulting on a proposal to remove Resourced Provision for Children with Complex and Multiple Learning Difficulties (CMLD) from The Acorns Primary and Nursery School, Pooltown Road, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, CH65 7ED to take effect from September 2021.

Why is the Council proposing to remove this provision which is currently provided at the school?

Cheshire West and Chester Council (the Council) has been requested by the Governing Body of the Acorns Primary and Nursery School (The Acorns) to consult on closure of the seven-place 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 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 consult on this proposal because it does not foresee the demand for places increasing because children who might once have been offered places in this provision are now being successfully educated in their local mainstream school settings.

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

Of the pupils currently registered some have already been identified as needing to change setting by 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 successfully with appropriate support in their mainstream classes, whilst still providing them with the stability and familiarity they have grown accustomed to. As The Acorns has assessed the school can meet these children’s needs within mainstream classes it would be expected that other mainstream schools would also be able to make this offer. This potentially provides parents with the opportunity to exercise a preference over the choice of school for their child.

In the event of a decision in favour of the proposal, then for those pupils who might have attended in the future there are other CMLD resource provisions available to access within the local authority with available places. However, more parents are choosing for their children to be educated within their local mainstream settings with support, hence the reduction in demand for places at this provision.

How will the accommodation previously used to accommodate the Resourced Provision now 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.

How will the budget previously used to fund the Resourced Provision now be used?

The saving to the SEND budget 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. School funds which would otherwise have been required to underwrite the overspend on the Resourced Provision will be remain available to the school.

The consultation process - indicative timeline

8 February - 14 March 2021

Informal public consultation period

2 - 4 March 2021

Opportunity for parents/carers, staff, pupils, governors, stakeholders and interested parties to book Microsoft Teams meeting with Council and School representatives.

April 2021

The Director of Education and Inclusion decides whether to progress the proposal to formal consultation.

April - May 2021

If agreed by the Director, a Public Notice will be published in a local newspaper, displayed at the school and published on the Council's website. During this time 'representations' can be made in response to the proposal. This period of formal consultation will run for four weeks.

June - July 2021

All responses to the informal consultation and any representations received during the formal consultation will be considered by the decision-maker and will inform the decision whether to approve the proposal.

September 2021

The earliest date that removal of the Resourced Provision could be implemented if the proposal is agreed.

How can I give my views?

There are a number of ways to give us your views on this proposal:

  • Complete the online survey
  • schoolplanningandpolicy@cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk
  • Write to: School Organisation Team, Cheshire West and Chester Council, (Nicholas House, Floor 3), 4 Civic Way, Ellesmere Port, CH65 0BE. Alternatively, you may hand your response form in at the school. All written responses need to be received by midnight on Sunday 14 March 2021.
  • A virtual face-to-face meeting using Microsoft Teams for parents/carers, members of staff, governors and other interested parties can be booked at a time and date to be agreed from Tuesday 2 March to Thursday 4 March 2021, where there will be the opportunity to ask questions and provide comments to a Council Officer and if requested a representative of the school. If you would like to take up the opportunity please email schoolplanningandpolicy@cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk no later than 22 February 2021.

What happens next?

This stage of consultation stage closes at midnight on Sunday 14 March 2021. A report summarising the responses received during this consultation period will be submitted to the Director of Education and Inclusion who will decide whether to proceed with the proposal and move to publish statutory proposals in the form of a public notice to be published in a local newspaper. For a period of four weeks following the publication date any person can comment on the proposals. Having considered all responses a final decision will be made by the Cabinet Member for Children and Families whether to approve the proposal.

Please note:

We welcome views from all sections of the community and would encourage everyone to take part in this consultation. Note that the Council has a responsibility to make sure that its services are available to all, regardless of race, colour, nationality, ethnic origin, sex, age, marital status, sexual orientation, disability, religion or belief or sexual identity. Comments that are offensive to particular groups or considered inappropriate under the Equality Act 2010 will not be considered or published as part of this consultation.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

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