3 November 2015

Improving city’s services for people with special educational needs

Plans to restructure services for people in Brighton & Hove with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) needs will be considered at a meeting on Tuesday 10 November.

The overall aim of the proposals is to improve services in the city for children and adults with special educational needs and learning disabilities within a very challenging financial context.

The proposals do not reduce the number of specialist places for children with SEND or SEMH issues – indeed they will show a small increase overall.

Everyone who is assessed as needing SEND or SEMH support will continue to receive support that meets their needs. There will be no reduction to teacher / pupil ratios, class sizes or support staff needed.

The key themes in the proposals are:

  • Personalisation to the needs of each family and service user
  • Integration of services across education, health and care
  • Consolidation of provision and services to run most efficiently
  • If these proposals are agreed, it would mean that services would be delivered in different ways, some in different buildings and some by different organisations.

The city’s six special schools and two pupil referral units currently all have different specialisms, rather than offering a full range of education, health and social care services. Under the plans, three schools offering a full range of services would be created, serving the east, west and centre of the city.

The chair of Brighton & Hove City Council’s children, young people and skills committee, Councillor Tom Bewick, said:

“Feedback from local families shows they find the current system here too fragmented in terms of education, health and care support for young people.

“In some cases this means that children have to attend schools outside the city in order to have their needs met while other schools in the city have only a small number of pupils. This is both difficult for the families involved and very expensive. The proposals aim to improve the service that we offer.

“Cuts to our grants from central government mean that we have to reduce our spending by around £68million over the next four years. These cuts alongside rising costs and demand, especially in areas such as children and services for our older residents, mean that we have to do things differently.

“We want to reduce management and buildings costs where we can, and to reinvest the money in delivering the full range of services that families are asking for.

“We need to do this, but in a way that minimises the impact of any changes on the most vulnerable and ensures a smooth transition to any new models of delivery.

“These are proposals and if they are agreed we will start a public consultation. I am always keen to hear from residents and service users.”

The proposals for re-organising SEND provision in the city are based on the following key principles:

  • Provision will be integrated across education, health and care to provide a more holistic response to children’s needs
  • We are working hard to minimise the impact of any changes on the most vulnerable and ensure a smooth transition to any new models of delivery
  • The proposals will be phased in over four academic years from September 2016 to ensure minimum disruption for children in their current provision
  • Every child and family will have a personalised plan that will ensure their progress and wellbeing are paramount considerations if there are changes that affect them
  • Savings will be made from consolidation of provision and consequent reduced management and infrastructure costs. There will be no reduction to teacher / pupil ratios, class sizes or support staff needed.

The proposals will be considered at a joint meeting of the council’s children, young people and skills committee and the city’s health and wellbeing board on Tuesday 10 November. If the proposals are accepted a period of public consultation will follow.

In addition, if the proposals are accepted, individual meetings will be arranged with all the people who use the council’s SEND / SEMH services and their families or carers to discuss how any proposed changes might affect them and how any issues can best be resolved.

These proposals should not be confused with the Learning Support service redesign which is taking place at the same time.

Further information

The existing six special schools are: Patcham House, Homewood College, Hillside Special School, Downs Park Special School, Downs View Special School and the Cedar Centre School.

The two Pupil Referral Units are Brighton & Hove Pupil Referral Unit and the Connected Hub.

It is proposed that these are reorganised to form three extended and integrated specialist provisions with clear vocational pathways and strong support for preparation for adulthood.

The proposals set out that:

  • Hillside Special School and Downs Park Special School amalgamate to form one school in the west for the full range of cognition and learning needs. The provision will cater for pupils aged 5 - 16 years i.e. Key Stages 1 – 4, and will operate from both of the current school sites but under one leadership team and governing body.
     
  • Downs View Special School expands to create one school in the east for the full range of cognition and learning needs. The provision will cater for pupils aged 5 - 19 years, i.e. Key Stages 1 – 5, and will be based on the current site of Downs View School which will be expanded as necessary.
     
  • Cedar Centre School, Patcham House School and Homewood College are reorganised as the city’s school provision for children with social, emotional and mental health needs to form a specialist school in the city centre (SEMH) catering for pupils aged from 5-16 years ie from Key Stages 1 – 4. The provision will be based on the current Cedar Centre School site.
     
  • B&H Pupil Referral Unit (currently situated at Lynchet Close and Dyke Road) and The Connected Hub (situated at Tilbury House) merge to form a single B&H Central Pupil Referral Unit for pupils with social, emotional and mental health needs. The unit will cater for pupils aged 11 – 16 years ie Key stages 3 and 4 and will be based on the Lynchet Close and Tilbury House sites.
     
  • Children who are currently attending full time at the primary Pupil Referral Unit (based at Lynchet Close) with statements of special educational needs or EHC Plans naming this provision, will move onto the roll of the specialist school in the city centre(SEMH).  Anyone attending the PRU part time will receive additional funding support in their part-time mainstream school.

See here for further information.