Decision Maker: Cabinet Member for Education and Skills
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: Yes
Is subject to call in?: Yes
Across Kent, the number of pupils with an EHCP has increased significantly. Figure 1 shows that, as of January 2015, there were 7,374 pupils aged between 0-25 years of age with an EHCP, by January 2019 the number had increased to 11,763, an increase of 60%. There have been significant increases across all need types but particularly for Autism Spectrum Disorder, Social, Emotional and Mental Health Needs, Speech, Language & Communication Needs and Moderate Learning Difficulties. The increase in the number of pupils with an ECHP is having an impact on the need for places within our special schools and the SRPs within mainstream schools. This is being particularly felt within our schools designated as PSCN, such as The Beacon Folkestone, which provide for pupils that have more than one need type.
Access to a maintained special school place in Dover is limited by the fact that the two special schools in the District, The Elms and Portal House, both cater for pupils with Social, Emotional and Mental Health Needs (SEMH). There is no special school designated to cater for PSCN; Dover and Dartford being the only 2 of the 12 districts in Kent not to have such a facility. Instead, Dover has two specialist resourced provisions (SRPs) designated for pupils with PSCN at Whitfield Aspen Primary School and at Dover Christ Church Academy. To support the increasing need for specialist places for pupils with PSCN within the District, particularly in the primary sector, the designated number of places available at Whitfield Aspen Primary School has grown from 58 in 2014 to 112 in 2019. However, this is clearly still not sufficient, as at January 2020 there were 128 pupils on roll in the SRP. The designated number at Dover Christ Church Academy is 40 and presently there are 54 pupils on roll. As pupils leave the primary sector there are insufficient local specialist places and pupils have to travel out of the District to receive appropriate support. This has become an increasing issue as larger primary school rolls enter the secondary sector. Opening a satellite of the Beacon at the Walmer site will go some way to ensuring there is sufficient specialist provision for pupils with PSCN within Dover district.
The pressure for PSCN places has not been limited to one need type. We have particular pressures for provision which will support needs of pupils with combined Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Severe Learning Difficulties (SLD) or Moderate Learning Difficulties (MLD). The buildings at the former Walmer Science College would be more suited to these need types.
The need to add additional ASD provision has been highlighted. In June 2019 the plan to add ASD provision via the commissioning of a new 168 place ASD provision within the former Walmer Science College building was brought to the attention of the Children’s, Young People and Education Cabinet Committee.
This was incorporated in a report which outlined how Officers proposed to allocate the additional £4,600,000 funding from the Government’s Special Provision Capital Fund to increase specialist ASD provision across the County.
We are proposing to open a 168-place satellite of The Beacon Folkestone at Walmer Science College, formally a mainstream secondary school which was vacated in August 2018. We plan to refurbish the buildings in phases, with the aim that the initial provision is open in September 2020.
Initial, high level feasibilities have shown that the site and present facilities at former Walmer Science College could be swiftly reinstated to provide the facilities needed for the satellite of The Beacon Folkestone. In particular, the buildings would be more suited to pupils with ASD and a combination of SLD/MLD.
We are planning to deliver the satellite in phases. Phase one would see complete refurbishment of the Compass Centre, to provide an Early Years and Key Stage One block with outdoor play space, and further enabling works such as: a drop off and pick up area, car parking for staff, visitors and taxis/minibuses and the removal of the ROSLA building. The addition of the enabling works at this point will increase the capital outlay required during the first phase, reducing it in further phases.
Publication date: 03/04/2020
Date of decision: 03/04/2020
Effective from: 15/04/2020