County Hall – photo © Julian Swainson

A consultation is open in respect of an ambitious plan to create around 142 new learning places at ten mainstream schools for children with special educational needs and disabilities.

The proposal is for the new places to be provided at specialist referral bases at ten different locations across the county. Known as SRBs, these operate as part of mainstream schools, providing access to special needs classes.

The plan is part of Norfolk County Council’s £120 million transformation of special educational needs. The programme seeks to create 500 extra school places by building up to four new specialist schools and expanding existing SRBs or building new ones.

Cabinet Member for Children’s Services at Norfolk County Council, John Fisher said: “This is yet another step forward in our pledge to transform education for children with special needs.’

‘’It’s great news that the proposed new SRBs will be at mainstream primary and secondary schools in nine different villages and towns right across the county.

“Youngsters with special educational needs (SEN) can be educated effectively in a range of mainstream or specialist settings. These extra SRB places as part of mainstream schools will provide more choice for families looking for that extra support for their child to thrive in a mainstream school.

“It is a central aim of our transformation programme to reduce travel time for children and their families and provide extra SEN support in mainstream schools and this proposal does just that.’’

Five new SRBs are planned to be for children with autism with four being brand new and the remaining one the replacement and expansion of an existing pod facility. These youngsters would attend the SRB for all their education. Four SRBs would be for children with social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) needs and the remaining base would be for youngsters with learning and cognition (L&C) needs. Children with either SEMH or L&C needs would stay on the roll of the home school and attend the SRB for anywhere between two and four terms before reintegrating back into their home school on a full-time basis.

The county council has been working with governors and senior leaders from schools across Norfolk, including local authority-maintained schools and Academy Trusts to establish the right provision in the right place to ensure improved access to SEND school places. Where possible it is planned for places to be available from 1 September 2020, although this is subject to a number of factors.

The consultation is open from until Tuesday 4 February 2020. You can have your say by visiting the Citizenspace website.

Printed copies of the consultation document can also be requested by emailing schoolreview@norfolk.gov.uk or writing to School Organisation Team, FREEPOST IH 2076, Floor 8 (Bay 34), County Hall, Martineau Lane, Norwich NR1 2DH

Individual schools and academy trusts will be holding drop-in events where you can come and find out more about these proposals. The dates, time and locations are as follows:

BRECKLAND

School/Academy Trust

Consultation event details

Redcastle Family School, St Martins Way, Thetford, IP24 3PU

Proposal – New 16 place autism SRB

Friday 10 January 2020, 2.30 – 3.30pm at Redcastle Family School
Wednesday 15 January 2020, 5.30 – 6.30pm, Redcastle Family School
Thetford Academy, (Inspiration Trust) Croxton Road, Thetford IP24 1LH

Proposal – New 16 place autism SRB

Wednesday 15 January 2020, 3 – 4pm, Thetford Academy
Monday 20 January 2020, 6 – 7pm, Thetford Academy
Drake Primary School, Fairfields, Thetford IP24 1JW

Proposal – replace existing pod provision and expand from 8 place to a 16 place autism SRB

Friday 10 January 2020, 9 – 10am at Drake Primary Academy
Thursday 16 January 2020, 5 – 6pm at Drake Primary Academy

EAST NORFOLK

School/Academy Trust

Consultation event details

Caister Infant & Nursery School and Caister Junior School, Kingston Avenue, Caister-on-sea, Great Yarmouth NR30 5ET

Proposal – New 16 place SEMH SRB

Thursday 16 January 2020, 2.30 – 3.30pm at Caister Infant School
Tuesday 21 January 2020, 6 – 7pm, Caister Junior School

NORWICH

School/Academy Trust

Consultation event details

Arden Grove Infant School, (Wensum Trust), Arden Grove, Hellesdon NR6 6QA

Proposal – New 16 place SEMH SRB

Thursday 16 January 2020, 6 -7pm at Arden Grove Infant & Nursery School
Friday 17 January 2020, 9 – 10am, Arden Grove Infant & Nursery School
Edith Cavell Academy & Nursery (Boudica Schools Trust) Duckett Close, Norwich NR1 2LR

Proposal – New 16 place SEMH SRB

Monday 13 January 2020, 9 – 10am, Edith Cavell Academy
Wednesday 22 January 2020, 3 – 4pm, Edith Cavell Academy

Wensum Junior Academy (Evolution Academy Trust), Turner Road

Norwich NR2 4HB

Proposal – New 16 place SEMH SRB

Thursday 16 January 2020, 9 – 10am, Wensum Junior Academy
Thursday 23 January 2020, 6 – 7pm, Wensum Junior Academy

NORTH NORFOLK

School/Academy Trust

Consultation event details

Mundesley Junior School, Trunch Road, Mundesley NR11 8LE

Proposal – Expand existing 10 place SEMH SRB by a further six places

Tuesday 14 January 2020, 2.15 – 3.15pm at Mundesley Junior School
Monday 20 January 2020, 5 – 6pm, Mundesley Junior School

WEST NORFOLK

School/Academy Trust

Consultation event details

Greyfriars Academy (KWEST Trust) London Road, King’s Lynn PE30 5PY

Proposal – New 16 place autism SRB

Tuesday 14 January 2020, 2.30 – 3.30pm at Greyfriars Academy
Wednesday 29 January 2020, 5.30 – 6.30pm at Greyfriars Academy
Hillcrest Primary School, Hillcrest

Downham Market PE38 9ND

Proposal – New 16 place L&C SRB

Wednesday 15 January 2020, 3 – 4pm, Hillcrest Primary School
Thursday 30 January 2020, 5 – 6pm, Hillcrest Primary School

Other active SEND projects

A public consultation is currently ongoing about the possibility of building a new autism school for up to 100 children on a former playing field at the disused Fakenham Sixth Form Centre.

Planning permission is currently being sought to build a school for 88 children with social, emotional and mental health needs at the former Alderman Swindell Primary School site in Great Yarmouth.

Norfolk County Council has now completed the purchase of land at the Easton College site to build a new 170 place school for children with cognition and learning needs pending feasibility studies and planning permission.

Allocation of new places

The SRB places will be allocated through Norfolk County Admissions processes and may not be full when they first open, but will grow up to full capacity through this admissions process. It is therefore expected that some SRBs will open with a lower number of places initially.

What happens at the end of the consultation?

After 4 February, for local authority-maintained schools, Norfolk County Council will review the results of the consultation and present the findings to the Executive Director of Children’s Services who will decide whether to proceed to the statutory public notice stage.

For Academy Trusts, each Trust will complete a business case and send it to the Regional Schools Commissioner for a decision.