System of excellence
The system of excellence is how we are describing the things we want to deliver to make sure that that all children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities in Wiltshire have access to a first class education. We will use these newsletters to share with you all the work going on around Wiltshire which are part of this.
We want to ensure that as we work to deliver transformation and excellent provision for Wiltshire we are thinking about our entire provision from pre-school and early years through to post 16 and opportunities for children and young people to have really good transitions as they go through significant life events such as starting new schools or becoming young adults as they leave education.
As part of this we have been investing money into our resource base provision across the area using capital funding that the Department for Education gave to local authorities to support us in creating new places and improve facilities at existing schools. This work has already created additional spaces that are needed for September 2020.
Council leaders at a recent cabinet meeting looked at our draft Inclusion and Special Educational Needs Strategy which has been put together through working with parent/carers, children and young people, voluntary sector groups, Wiltshire Parent Carer Council and professionals from across a variety of partnership organisations that work with people with SEND including schools and colleges, nurseries, Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group, Oxford Health who provide our children’s and adolescents’ mental health support, and Virgin Care our provider of community care.
This consultation identified six priority areas:
Developing holistic plans with children / young people
Inclusion and removing exclusion in education
Inclusion and wellbeing in the community
Improving the range and quality of provision
Progress and attainment
Well planned transitions
The full draft strategy is attached and sets out what we need to do next. It will go to our Health and Wellbeing Board planned for September for their views and comments before being finalised.
This strategy and the six priority areas will be really important in driving our system of excellence work. It will ensure that children and young people with SEND and their families have a voice that is heard and know how to access joined-up support they need to thrive in their communities, enjoy life and reach their full potential.
New special free school in the south
We successfully bid to the Department for Education (DfE) for a new special free school in the South of Wiltshire. The school will cater for 150 pupils aged 4 to 19 with Autistic Spectrum Conditions (ASC) and Social, Emotional and/ or Mental Health difficulties (SEMH).
Last year, interested parties were asked to apply to run the school and interviews were subsequently held. The successful sponsor is due to be announced by the DfE in the next few weeks. In the meantime, the DfE has been considering potential sites in Salisbury and again an announcement on their preferred site is expected shortly. Work will then start on a feasibility study in conjunction with the council. The DfE’s current programme anticipates that the school will open in September 2022.
In our last newsletter we shared that we had presented our proposals to the Office of the Schools Adjudicator (OSA) for their decision. We are pleased to say that OSA made their decision on 28 May, and that they have approved our proposals for the creation of a new amalgamated special school.
What does this mean?
This means that on 31 August Larkrise, Rowdeford and St Nicholas will technically close as three separate schools, and on 1 September 2020 a new single school will be created on the three existing sites. This decision is an important milestone and reflects a lot of hard work from all the governors, staff and the wider school communities.
This is not the end of a process, but the beginning of a new and exciting stage of our work together to create a new school across the three sites that supports Wiltshire children and their parents and carers and will promote inclusion and excellence in teaching and learning.
What difference does this decision make?
In practical terms, parents/carers and children and young people won’t see any immediate change to schooling or experience of school life. Children will continue to attend at their school sites as usual and there will be no immediate changes to things such as uniform.
The decision does mean that the schools will start to take steps to become one school on three sites and these include launching a Shadow Governing Board (see more details below).
How can you get involved?
We really want to make sure that children and young people, parents and carers and staff get to be involved in developing the single school and its identity, and there will be lots of opportunities to work together, including in the design of the new-build school.
People have told us that it would be really helpful to have a timeline of next steps and we have reattached the illustration of the project timeline below. We will develop this further to share more detail of things you can get involved in, setting out when key things will happen like recruitment of the executive head, agreeing on a new school name and logo, and what the uniform might look like in future.
Shadow Governing Board
Now the Office of the Schools Adjudicator has made its decision the Shadow Governing Board (SGB) will be formed to work towards the creation of the new school on 1 September 2020.
Each of the three schools will nominate governors to work together on this SGB with equal balanced representation from each of the current schools.
The SGB will meet regularly between now and September and will have an important role in establishing the Full Governing Board for the new school, as well as overseeing recruitment processes for an executive head teacher role.
We are pleased to announce that we have appointed Willmott Dixon as our main contractor. In the next two weeks Wiltshire Council hopes to enter into formal contract with Willmott Dixon who will work with us along with their supply chain to design and then build the new school.
Now we have our contractor on board there will be exciting work to do in thinking about the details of how we want the new school to look, and we are very much looking forward to working with parents and carers, young people, staff and governors to co-produce next steps into the future.