Introduction

The Stour Academy Trust, with the support of Kent County Council (KCC) and the Board of Directors is proposing to change the designation of the existing Specialist Resource Provision (SRP) at Thistle Hill Academy (Isle of Sheppey) from Social Emotional and Mental Health Needs (SEMH) to ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder).

Reasons for the consultation

There is an increasing need for specialist ASD places.  KCC in their Commissioning Plan for Education Provision in Kent 2020-24 reported that ASD is the fastest growing need type across the County.  As of January 2019, 40% of children and young people aged 0-25 years with an Education Health Care Plan (EHCP) had ASD identified as their primary need type.  This was significantly higher than the National figure of around 29%.  As a consequence both KCC and The Stour Academy Trust have found that the local need for specialist ASD provision is greater than for SEMH.  In addition, many pupils placed in SEMH special schools or SRPs have gone on to receive a diagnosis of ASD, with ASD being their primary underlying need.

Figure 1 shows that as of June 2020, there were 270 primary aged pupils resident in Swale District with an EHCP for ASD.  Of these 153 attended a maintained or independent special school and 13 an SRP.  In comparison there were only 91 pupils across the Borough with an EHCP for SEMH.   

Figure 1: Number of primary aged pupils resident in Swale District with an EHCP for ASD or SEMH- June 2020

ASDSEMH
Independent special schools1311
Mainstream9951
Mainstream SRP135
Maintained /Academy Special14021
Other53
Total27091

Specialist Provisions at The Stour Academy Trust

The Stour Academy Trust have two other schools with SRPs, Chilmington Green Primary School and Finberry Primary School both in Ashford.

Chilmington Green Primary School opened in September 2018 in temporary accommodation.  The school will relocate into in its permanent home in the 2020-21 academic year.  The new site includes provision for an ASD SRP. 

Finberry Primary School has an SRP for SEMH .  We are consulting on a proposal to change the designation of that provision to ASD for the same reasons as we are consulting at Thistle Hill Academy. 

Having three schools with SRPs for ASD across the Trust will enable us to enhance and extend existing expertise to meet the local need for pupils with ASD.

The impact on pupils with SEMH as their need type

We are working closely with the LA to review the provision for pupils with SEMH needs, including those currently in the SRP.  We have agreed with KCC that, should the change of designation be approved by The Secretary of State, any child who is currently successfully placed within the existing SRP and is making progress will continue with their placement in the SRP, even if they continue to have SEMH as their primary area of need.  We will therefore not be seeking a change of placement for any pupil whilst the provision remains a successful learning environment to meet their needs.

The next steps

The consultation will run until from 14th September until 19th October 2020 at which point we will review any responses received. Should The Stour Academy Trust continue with the proposal to change the designation of the SRP, we will submit our business case to The Secretary of State for Education.  Should agreement to the proposal be given, the change of designation will take affect from September 2021.  At that point, the SRP will just receive and accept new pupils with a primary area of need identified as ASD.

FAQ’s

What is an SRP?

A Specialist Resource Provision (SRP) is a mainstream school based provision, reserved for pupils with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP).  An SRP serves children that require higher levels of support than can be provided in local mainstream schools, but whose needs are not so complex that special school placements are appropriate.

How many places will be available in the SRP and how will they be allocated?

The designated number for the SRP is 14.  This in essence means that up to 14 places can be offered.  However, fewer places may be commissioned initially, growing over time as the school increases to its full two forms of entry of provision.  

Places will be for pupils with EHCPs with a diagnosis of ASD, or on the ASD assessment pathway, and would be allocated by the Local Authority, not by the school.  These places would be in addition to the school’s Published Admission Number (PAN) of 60.

How will the places be financed?

KCC agree the number of commissioned places in the SRP on an annual basis.  Thistle Hill Academy will receive £10,000 for each place commissioned plus ‘top up’ funding for each pupil on roll.

Consultation timetable:

14 September 2020 to 19 October 2020 (midnight)Public Consultation period.
W/C 28th September 2020‘Drop in’ information session held at Thistle Hill Academy, Isle of Sheppey.
26 October to 30 October 2020The Consultation responses are reviewed with KCC and added to the Business Case for the DfE
January 2021Change of designation Business Case is sent to DfE for approval.
September 2021Subject to approval, the proposed change of designation is implemented.

Consultation Response

You can complete an online response to the consultation below.

Online Consultation Response Form

Or you can download a copy of the form below and hand it in at the school office or email to thistlehill@stouracademytrust.org.uk

Consultation Response Form

All responses need to be received by Midnight 19th October 2020