Telford & Wrekin Council is to develop a partnership arrangement between special schools and a number of mainstream schools to broaden the range of provision for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities.
Over recent months, Telford & Wrekin Council has been focusing on building the resilience and capacity of mainstream schools to meet increasing complexity of need and schools have been responding to this.
Recommendation to develop specialist provision hubs in mainstream schools that cater for children with communication and interaction needs, including those with Autism and associated cognition and learning difficulties have been approved by cabinet. This development provides an inclusive option which bridges the gap between special and mainstream schools, offering greater choice for parents and means children with more complex SEND are educated alongside their mainstream peers.
In 2017, the Department for Education announced special provision capital funding for local authorities to invest in new places and/or improvements to facilities for pupils with high needs. Telford & Wrekin Council’s current allocation amounts to £848,837 over three years and the funding is primarily intended to create new places and improve facilities at existing sites. It can also be used to support the establishment of the hubs in a small number of mainstream schools and to support the creation of new places for specialist provision. Local authorities are required to develop and update a plan every year that shows how the funding will be invested in order to release the money.
Our Special Provision Plan can be found here
The report to cabinet recommended that two mainstream primary schools are identified to work with a special school to operate a partnership model. It is envisaged that this will start from autumn term 2019 and that a secondary school offering resource provision should open at some stage in the academic year 2019/2020.
Between now and the end of the 18/19 academic year the local authority will work with the schools involved to implement the specialist resource hubs. This involves recruitment of staff, redesign of the space and development of service level agreements. Below provides an outline of FAQs to aid your understanding about the provision.
To begin, primary hubs will be developed at Holllinswood Primary School and Nursery and Old Park Primary School. Whilst these schools will host the hubs, they will be managed in partnership with Haughton Special School. During 19/20 ‘hub provision’ for secondary aged pupils with complex SEND will be sought.
One of the purposes of the hubs is to provide opportunity for children with complex SEND to be included in a mainstream environment alongside their peers. Therefore the ‘hubs’ are adapted classrooms within the existing school buildings. The ethos of the hubs is for the children who attend them, to be included within mainstream activities as far as possible. How much time a child spends in the ‘hub’ as opposed to a mainstream class will be dependent upon the child’s needs and their response to inclusion opportunities.
Children will be on roll at Haughton School but will attend the hub provision in the mainstream school settings. Children will wear the uniform of the mainstream settings, again promoting the ethos that they are part of the school in which they attend.
To begin the hubs will focus on KS2 pupils, as this is where current demand for specialist provision is at its greatest, under exceptional circumstances children at upper KS1 (i.e. year 2) may be considered but this will depend on the needs and age range of other children already at the setting. Consideration will be given to the development of KS1 hubs in due course.
The hubs will cater for children with complex communication and interaction needs, including Autism and associated cognition and learning difficulties. Further detail about the type of needs ‘hub provision’ will cater for, and entry/exit criteria, is provided in the link below.
entry/exit criteria document
All children will require an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan to access this provision. Parents will need to express an preference for their child to be placed in hub provision. Location of the child’s home address and the needs of the cohort who already attend the provision will be taken into consideration when determining the most appropriate hub for a child’s placement.
Discussions about a child’s placement in the hubs can be conducted with parents as part of the EHC assessment or annual review processes and a request for placement should be made to the local authority SEND team. Upon receipt of the request the Local Authority SEND team will consult with Haughton School, where the children will be on roll, and the host mainstream school that has been requested. Observational visits will be completed by the hub mainstream school in partnership with Haughton and discussions will take place with parents. This information will be fed into the half termly specialist provision pathway meetings, that are led by the local authority, and a decision as to placement will be made. Decisions are made in partnership with schools but for the purpose of disagreement resolution, should issues arise, the local authority is the ultimate decision maker.
The hubs will open during the 2019/20 Autumn Term. Teaching staff and teaching assistants are being recruited to begin in September 2019. It is anticipated that children will start to attend the setting by 2019 Autumn half term at the latest.
Each hub will have approximately 10 children. It is anticipated that the hubs will start with much lower numbers and grow over time.
This is possible, but a lot of discussion and work will happen between the special school and the child’s parent if this is being considered. Children will not be moved without agreement from parents. Provision for children with an EHC plan is reviewed each year through the annual review process and this will be used as the mechanism to consider a change of placement where appropriate.
Absolutely not. The development of formal hubs at Hollinswood and Old Park schools is to help build sufficiency in our specialist provision and should not replace any of the excellent work mainstream schools are doing to support children with SEND. The majority of children with SEND are appropriately placed in mainstream schools and have their needs well met. The Children and Family Act, 2014 is clear and presumes every child, regardless of need, will attend a mainstream school. We need to ensure all schools are continual developing their internal SEND provision to reduce the need to create further specialist provision.
Would the offer of hubs be available for families who home educate - maybe on a shared placement?
Currently this is not possible however we hope that the offer a specialist hubs provides a broader continuum of provision for parents and carers.
What about access to therapies in the specialist hubs - how would this work?
There are ongoing discussions with health commissioners regarding the provision of therapy within the specialist hubs. This is likely to include some input from speech and language therapy.
From which school will the staff, supporting children in the hub, come from? Haughton, Old Park or Hollinswood?
For children who attend the hub provision both sets of staffing groups will support the children (i.e. Haughton and Old Park if the child attends the hub provision at Old Park School and Haughton and Hollinswood, if the child attends hub provision at Hollinswood School. The teacher and teaching assistants within the ‘hub classroom’ will be Haughton staff and keep oversight of a child throughout their time at school. However during inclusion opportunities, where children take part in activities alongside their mainstream peers, they will be supported by teachers and teaching assistants from Old Park/Hollinswood. New teachers and teaching assistants are being recruited by Haughton to run the hub provisions.
What is the progression route out of the hub (and how long will placement be for?)
The exit criteria can be found here. All placements for children with an EHC plan are reviewed as part of the annual review process.
What is meant by the phrase ‘complex social communication needs’ - does this include a diagnosis of ADHD?
To support your understanding of the profile of needs that specialist hub provision will cater for, please find below a pen-portrait of a child that may attend this setting.
Specialist provision hubs are for children and young people who have communication and interaction needs, including those with Autism and associated needs such as cognition and learning difficulties.
Most children who attend the hub provision will show elements of both indicators below. Some may demonstrate significant complexity with communication and interaction needs (i.e. indicator 1) but are accessing a "mainstream" curriculum.
|Indicator 1 - Communication and Interaction needs, including those with Autism|
|Due to their communication and interaction needs children will require a personalised education programme that is likely to include short supervised tasks, a visual timetable and other strategies and interventions. They may have obsessive behavioural routines and limited awareness of danger that requires adult supervision or intervention. They will experience significant difficulty in tolerating social interaction and have a limited understanding of others’ emotions. Children may be in a high state of anxiety as a result of sensory factors in the environment. Consequently all aspects of a child’s day will need to be structured. Children may have a diagnosis of Autism. They may also have additional needs including ADHD and Tourette Syndrome.|
|Indicator 2 - Cognition and learning needs|
|Children will be working significantly below age related expectations and follow a modified curriculum in most subjects that ensures appropriate access for learning. They may learn in whole class, smaller group and/or individually in a setting that provides specialist and intensive tuition. The characteristics of children may include difficulties maintaining attention for short periods of time on a required activity. They may be able to work successfully on specific tasks which are matched to individual needs in all subject areas but require specific strategies, with an adult sharing organisation of resources.|
Specialist provision hubs are not intended to cater for pupils with a combination of Autism, severe learning difficulties and challenging behaviour.
This provision is not for children with a primary need of social, emotional, mental health SEMH).
Children may display behavioural challenges as a result of the difficulties they have faced accessing the curriculum and engaging with school activities or those that arise from the social communication needs (for example as a result of sensory needs).
Please note – a child does not require a medical diagnosis of a condition for entry into hub provision. Rather the combination of need and impact on a child’s learning will be used to determine the appropriateness of entry into a hub.