Councillor Lucy Smith, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, presented the report updating on the progress made in relation to the delivery of the specialist place sufficiency plan contained within Project Safety Valve, which set out plans to increase specialist resourced provision in mainstream schools, alongside the development of new Free Special Schools. In response to Members’ questions, Councillor Smith advised that the project was moving at pace and the target opening date of Autumn 2023 was realistic. With regards to Our Lady of Lourdes RC Primary, the first phase was complete but the second phase was dependent on the Diocese. With regards to Summerseat Methodist Primary, this had been experiencing falling roles so as it was not full there were opportunities.
1. Noted the progress made to date in relation to the development of specialist resourced provision in mainstream schools.
2. Approved in principle the indicative capital commitments required to deliver the individual projects.
Reasons for the decision:
· Development of additional resourced provision in mainstream settings – as set out in the Project Safety Valve agreement between the Council and the Department for Education, is a key element of the specialist place sufficiency strategy. Taken together, the Agreement and strategy set out the business case for the development of new provision to meet increasing demand for specialist provision and reduce the reliance on placements in Independent and Non Maintained Special Schools (INMSS).
· The PSV agreement between the Council and Department for Education (DfE) sets out the requirement for new specialist educational provision, including new Resourced Provision and new Free Special Schools. This includes a schedule of those mainstream schools where it is intended to establish new RP, the funding allocated to support delivery, and indicative timescales for delivery.
· The agreement has been subject to consideration by Cabinet and the Children & Young People’s Scrutiny Committee and is subject to governance provided by the PSV Delivery Board and Schools Capital Board.
· The development of new specialist provision seeks to ensure access to a high quality continuum of provision, enabling the majority of children and young people with additional needs to access local provision, with appropriate capacity and resources to meet need.
· Long-term value for money will be achieved by pupils having their needs met within appropriate mainstream provision with specialist support rather than in special school provision. This will free up special school places for pupils with the highest level of needs and provide the opportunity to place high need pupils within the borough, rather than in out of borough provision. Increased capacity for outreach will deliver support for pupils in mainstream settings, leading to fewer pupils being transferred to specialist provisions and improving inclusion opportunities in mainstream schools.
Alternative options considered and rejected:
The projects support the Council’s programme of SEND transformation, in expanding in borough specialist provision, targeted at the right areas of need.