Cabinet members have approved a report to provide educational support to pupils with sensory impairments in their local mainstream school.
At today’s meeting (Wednesday 10 June), they heard that until the beginning of the Autumn Term 2019/20, the council commissioned resourced provision to support the education needs of up to eight children with visual and/or hearing impairments via Joseph Locke Primary School.
Last year a review was undertaken of resourced provision for children with sensory impairments. This was followed by a statutory consultation on proposals for the future commissioning of such provision. Demand for the commissioned places has been very low for a number of years and the commitment of the council and its partners is that , wherever possible, children with sensory impairments should be educated in the school of their choice and not be required to send their children to a school away from their local area, friends and peers. Among other developments, advances in technology have meant that, in the majority of cases, children can be supported to attend their local school and the provision they need can be arranged on an individual basis based on their Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP).
Members have agreed therefore to cease the current form of resource-based provision and deliver this support to children in their local mainstream school based on the needs of the individual and supported by the council’s Education and Inclusion Services. This will begin in September this year.
Members acknowledge that some parents of children with a sensory impairment may feel anxious that this resourced provision will no longer be available from September but are reassured that demand for this type of placement is very low, that the majority of parents want their child to attend the school of their choice and that no children have been required to change schools as a result of this proposal.
Where a pupil has very complex needs, of which a sensory impairment is one factor, the arrangements have not changed and the council will continue to work with parents to secure more specialist help and support, as required, including through placement in special schools.
Cllr Margaret Bruff, Cabinet Spokesperson for Children’s Services, said: “This decision will enable more children with sensory impairments to be educated alongside their peers at their local school, within a mainstream environment.
“Provision for pupils with SEND will continue to be reviewed for effectiveness in meeting need. This is part of our statutory responsibility and the aims of the council’s SEND School Placement Sufficiency Strategy.”