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Start date: 2020-11-09
End date: 2020-12-20
Results: 2021-03-31

Proposal to establish a new specialist resourced provision for secondary age learners with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND)

Have your say on our proposal


The total number of children and young people requiring an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP) has risen in recent years. The number of children and young people with an EHCP where social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) and/or Autism is stated as the primary need is also rising, as are the number of children and young people identified as SEN Support (requiring additional support, but from within resources already delegated to schools in their SEN budget) with a primary need of SEMH and/or Autism. The picture in West Berkshire reflects the national picture.

The number of children and young people with an EHCP whose needs cannot be met in existing local provision has increased. This means that more children and young people are needing to be placed in out of area and independent/non maintained provision. Following careful review of data and patterns, and consultations with all key stakeholders, it was identified as a priority in the SEND Strategy 2018-2023 to develop more local provision to allow the majority of children and young people to be educated in their local community, and to make the most effective use of resources.

What are we proposing?

We propose to develop a specialist resourced provision for up to 42 secondary aged learners (aged 11 - 18 years) with complex social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) needs, who may also have a diagnosis of Autism.

The facilities provided would be a suite of well-equipped classrooms, smaller teaching rooms for 1:1 sessions, dedicated space for therapists and other professionals to use, a sensory room, a quiet and calm space for learners to withdraw to if they need to, a well-appointed and welcoming social area and a large secure outside space.

Learners would be able to spend up to 100% of their time in the resource if necessary, in groups of a maximum of six. There'll be carefully planned opportunities to maximise inclusion in mainstream learning and social activities wherever possible.

The resource would be developed and operate in line with Therapeutic Thinking principles, an approach designed to support the SEMH needs of young people, and provide a sustained positive and prosocial experience.

Learners would receive a full time broad, balanced, flexible and personalised curriculum, and a high level of support from a team of qualified and experienced teaching and support staff. There would be a focus on high aspirations for learners, achieving meaningful qualifications, building positive community links and preparing for adulthood so that young people leave the resource well equipped for further or higher education and training, employment and living independently.

The resource would benefit from multi-agency input from an Educational Psychologist, Mental Health Worker and Family Support Worker, and from an Occupational Therapist and Speech and Language Therapist. Direct therapy would be provided as outlined in learners' EHCPs.

We would hope to open this resource in September 2022, with a phased admission to increase steadily to a full capacity of 42 places.

All requests for placements would initially be considered by West Berkshire Council's SEN Panel, and then by a specialist resource admissions panel facilitated by West Berkshire Council and the Head Teacher of the school. The proposed admissions criteria for placement at the resource are:

  • Have an Education, Health and Care Plan
  • Have complex needs in relation to SEMH difficulties
  • May have a diagnosis of Autism
  • Despite appropriate interventions, reasonable adjustments and support over time (a 'graduated response'), may have been excluded from school, or are at very high risk of exclusion from mainstream school
  • Require a highly personalised and flexible timetable and a very high level of specialist adult support that cannot be provided in a mainstream school or other local resourced provision
  • Likely to have had, and require ongoing, multi-agency support

As with all placements named on an EHCP, placement would be subject to review every year through the Annual Review process.

Why do we want your views?

We'd like to hear your views on our proposal to increase local provision for learners with complex needs in relation to SEMH and Autism, and to develop a 42 place specialist resource for secondary aged pupils.  We'd also welcome any comments or suggestions you'd like us to take into account when we're planning this project.

The survey should take approximately ten minutes to complete, and your feedback will be used to inform the development of a more detailed project plan.

If you have any questions, please contact SENConsultations@westberks.gov.uk

The consultation is open until midnight on Sunday, 20 December 2020.

What happens next?

A more detailed project plan will be subject to further consultation in early 2021, when a proposed host school and site have been identified.  Following this, as decision will be taken as to whether the project will proceed.