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Integrated Resource Proposal

Proposal to open an Integrated Resource (IR) to support children with complex Special Educational Needs (autism, speech and language, and communication) at Woodlands Primary School from 1st September 2024.

Context

Woodlands Primary School is committed to providing high quality provision for the full range of local children. Over recent years, it has developed a strong reputation for its mainstream offer, but also to the small but growing number of children who have more complex Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).

These children’s needs are currently met within The Treehouse and The Nest with varying degrees of integration into the mainstream classrooms. These provisions have been created, with extra resources from the school and Mercia Trust, given our commitment to be fully inclusive for all children.

Nationally, and across Sheffield, the number of children with more complex SEND is increasing, but there are not enough specialist places in Special Schools or Integrated Resources to accommodate. Within Woodlands Primary and the locality, there is a similar increase, and a necessity for more properly resourced places.

Proposal

In partnership with the Local Authority, we therefore propose to open a small 20-pupil place Integrated Resource (Reception to Year 6) for children with complex needs relating specifically to communication and interaction at Woodlands Primary School from the 1st of September 2024.

The majority of places will be made available, in the first instance, to children already attending the provisions at Woodlands, those due to be admitted in the future are from the immediate locality.

Woodlands Primary is entering into the project at the same time as Nether Edge Primary School and Woodlands Primary, demonstrating a Trust-wide commitment to supporting our most vulnerable children.

Benefits

There are many benefits to this proposal:

  1. It allows us to respond positively to the current and future need for specialist SEN pupil places within its catchment and the locality.
  2. Because it changes the official status of school provision, it boosts SEN funding substantially.
  3. More funding will allow school to increase staffing levels, provide more resources and interventions for SEN children, and improve provision overall. In short provide an even better offer to our most vulnerable children.
  4. It allows us to access capital funding from the Local Authority (LA). We will use this to improve the interior and exterior specialist facilities in school, so that we can create bespoke accommodation.
  5. It releases funds, previously used to support specialist provision, back to the mainstream and so benefits all children.
  6. It supports the LA objective to increase specialist places in mainstream primary schools across the city.

What will be provided within the specialist Integrated Resource?

Working hand in hand with your mainstream school staff, The Nest and The Treehouse will be a 20 place Resource for children in Foundation Stage and KS1, providing inclusive, supportive and accessible learning experiences for all our pupils.

All learning and development will be in a personalised, flexible approach to engage all and prepare children for their individualised next steps as well as preparation for the world beyond the classroom.

Pupils accessing these provisions will have an EHCP which will inform all targeted learning. Each provision will be led by a specialist trained, well-experienced teacher who will be supported by a Higher Level Teaching Assistant and several Level 3 Teaching Assistants. Our Curriculum is built around opportunities designed to reach the outcomes within each child’s EHCP. There is a strong emphasis on developing communication and emotional regulation.

At all times, we will try to encourage integration with the mainstream classroom but we are also very flexible with how we achieve this. Integration may start slowly for some children but gradually we will work out ways to build this up.

The additional IR classrooms are part of the Woodlands Primary School building. They both have outdoor spaces attached to them. Children can access these provisions by entering the main school entrance and walking up the side of the building. The site is secure.

How will pupils be admitted to the IR?

All children with have an Education Health Care Plan (EHCP) with an identified special need of autism, speech and language, and communication. Children already within the school (who will take up the majority of places), with this designation will automatically access a place within the Integrated Resource. Other pupils will gain access via the Local Authority SEN admissions protocols.

Where will it be accommodated?

We already have specialist accommodation and facilities within the school. However, we plan to slightly re-model these, and substantially improve and extend outdoor spaces.

We expect all building re-modelling to be completed before the 1st of September 2024.

Who will oversee this new provision?

The provision will be led by the Headteacher of Woodlands Primary School  and supported by a range of specialist staff (number, type, and with external specialist staff (Ed Psych, SALT, etc)

The Headteacher and Head of Special Needs will have direct responsibility for oversight of the Integrated Resource. This is alongside their overall responsibilities for school leadership and the offer to all children.

The Governing Body, and Mercia Learning Trust, will also have strategic accountability for the quality of provision, alongside the Local Authority who have co-commissioned the provision.

When will this open?

It is planned to open in September at the beginning of the 2024-25 academic year.

Will this proposal affect mainstream school and pupils?

School will operate as it does now, with the specialist IR separate to, but within the main school.

Mercia Learning Trust has considerable experience of running IRs as one has already been established for many years at King Ecgbert School.

Consultation process

The school conducted a formal consultation process in January/February 2024, including two events in school. 

During the process, feedback was gathered, the overwhelming majority of which was positive.

Questions gathered from the consultation

Are extra staff going to be employed?

No. Teaching and support staff already employed within the school will be used to staff the IR. This is because school already has two specialist provisions (the Treehouse and Nest) which will morph into the IR.

How will people manage if they don`t have people to support them in their fight for EHCPs when these are a requirement?

As a school we will ensure children within the school have their needs properly identified and if appropriate support families secure an EHCP. School has strong links with SEN family advocates who we can also direct for support.

How will the school manage potential numbers as the projections are for numbers of children with autism to increase?

The majority of places are for existing children or those from the locality. We do expect to fill and will need to work with the Local Authority to ensure that admissions are equitably and appropriately managed.

Other schools / trusts are developing IR provision, so we hope that available places across the city ameliorate admission pressures.

What will SEND provision look like for those not in the IR?

Provision will continue as now.

Would the IR cater for PDA, ASD, and other difficulties?

Children identified for the IR have a range of complex needs related to speech, communication, and language / ASD. This often manifests in a variety of behaviours. We hope the curriculum offer and provision can meet need.

Decision-making and permission

Following a successful consultation period, the Governors and Trustees have approved the proposal to proceed to a Significant Change application with the Department for Education. Should this be successful, we will update this page in the Spring, and all being well, aim to be on target for a September 2024 start.