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 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.
We will use these newsletters to share with you all the work going on around Wiltshire which is part of this.
New special free school in the south
In April, it was announced there would be a new free school for 150 pupils with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) in the south of the county.
It has now been agreed by the Department for Education (DfE) that Reach South Academy Trust, which already runs a special school in Wiltshire, will operate the new school in the south.
Reach South runs Springfields Academy which is based across two sites in Calne and at Sarum Academy in Salisbury. The Salisbury site is known as Springfields South and opened in February 2019 for pupils with ASD and SEMH.
Details on where the new school will be based are due to be shared shortly.
The school will have strong links with the community and will help pupils to gain independence and a breadth of learning. This will also prevent the need for pupils to travel long distances to access the right educational setting to meet their needs. The DfE’s current programme anticipates that the school will open in September 2022.
Dean Ashton, CEO of Reach South Academy Trust said: “The school will build safe, independent lives for pupils through support, understanding and enablement.”
“We have high aspirations and expectations and we are excited to work in close partnership with Wiltshire Council and to support their work to deliver a system of excellence to ensure that all children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities in Wiltshire have access to a first class education”.
“We’re committed to outreach and we want to support other schools and the local community, particularly parents and families. Our curriculum will be about breadth and challenge offering practical, multi-sensory, and real life experiences.”
North special school project
In our last newsletter we shared that the Office of the Schools Adjudicator (OSA) made their decision on 28 May to approve 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 will the new school be called?
A name is a really important part of a school’s identity and the community will want to choose it together. There will be consultation with parents and carers, young people and staff to select a permanent name for the school over the coming months. In the meantime, from 1 September, your current school site will continue to use the same name to refer to the site. For the amalgamated school we need a single name for some things like official paperwork, so a temporary school name of North Wiltshire Special School has been registered with the DfE.
What difference does becoming one school make?
In practical terms, parents/carers and children and young people won’t see immediate changes to schooling or experiences 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.
Becoming one school across three sites means that some changes are taking place to the leadership. These changes include launching a Full Governing Board for the amalgamated new school in September and appointing an interim Executive Head Teacher (see more details below).
Interim Executive Headteacher
The Shadow Governing Board has been successful in the recruitment to the interim executive headteacher role and we look forward to letting you know in the next few weeks who the successful candidate is following completion of the appropriate clearances. The interim Executive Head Teacher will formally start in their role from 1 September and will have a key role to provide support to the new school in its transformation.
We will be working with the Full Governing Board from the autumn to recruit a permanent Executive Head Teacher who will provide inspirational leadership for the school’s future.
People have told us that it would be really helpful to have a timeline of next steps and an updated project timeline is included below.
We will continue to update this as the project develops, so that you can find out more detail of things you can get involved in, and when key things will happen, like recruitment of the permanent executive head, agreeing on a new school name and logo, and what the uniform might look like in future.
Shadow Governing Board
The Shadow Governing Board was formed following the OSA decision to approve the creation of the new school. It brought together governors from each of the three schools and has been meeting regularly to prepare for 1 September.
The Shadow Governing Board has played an important role, completing all of the necessary tasks to create a new school and setting out how the Full Governing Board will work from 1 September. The Shadow Governing Board will meet for the last time on 25 August, and the new Full Governing Board will meet for the first time on 10 September.
In our last newsletter, we announced that we had appointed Willmott Dixon as our main contractor for the new school build. Willmott Dixon and their team have been gathering as much information as possible about the main build site and are starting to think about how they will go about building the new facilities.
They have visited Rowdeford and Larkrise to talk to staff to understand how they operate and are planning to visit the St Nicholas site in early September.
We are starting to plan how we will engage with pupils, parents and carers as well as with staff and governors to co-produce how we want the new and refurbished school buildings to look and work. We will start this process of co-production in September.
We will be looking together at key areas like building design, transport, ecology and environment, play and outdoor learning, and linking the school and the community. We will be writing out to parents, carers and staff again in September with more details about how to get involved. In the meantime, if you would like to register an interest please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and let us know if there are any particular themes (e.g. transport) that you are particularly interested in, and we will keep you updated.