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Frequently asked questions - Proposed Primary Special School – Friar Park Road, Wednesbury

What are the ratios of need for the primary school?

The school is intended for pupils who have ASD with associated moderate learning difficulties. It is anticipated that pupils with ASD who can access the national curriculum will be taught within mainstream schools or mainstream schools with a resource base. 

Can you provide an indication of the expected take up for free school meals?

The other special schools within Sandwell (not including the SEMH school) have on average 57% of the population who qualified for Free School Meals during the past 6 years in 2018. 

What are the anticipated number of pupils in Reception and Key Stage 1 based on projections you anticipate referring to the school in its first year of opening?

Anticipated figures would be approximately 18 pupils in Reception and 18 in Key Stage 1. 

Would the local authority be prepared to build up the school roll from Reception / Key Stage 1, rather than place pupils across all year groups?

The Local Authority would consider building the school roll from key points of transition i.e.  Reception, Yr. 1 and Yr. 3.

Is it the local authority’s view that once opened the school may admit more sensory ASD pupils than high function pupils with autism?

The LA has the view that the pupils will have ASD and associated learning needs.  As part of the provision, the school will cater for the pupil’s sensory needs.

Can the local authority provide a link to its latest primary / special school transport policy for parents?

The SEN travel assistance policy is currently under review. Publication and consultation of the new policy is expected within the next half term.

Will the new primary special school serve as the main feeder school for the new co-located secondary special school?

The new primary special school will serve as the main feeder to the new co-located secondary special school.  However, pupils may be placed at different special schools / provisions within the local area following an annual review of their needs, provision and outcomes and parental preferences.

Based upon individual pupil needs, does the local authority expect that year six pupils may choose to attend alternative schools at Year 7?

It would be anticipated that the majority of pupils would transition to the co-located secondary school for pupils with ASD.  However it is appreciated that parents and pupils may chose other alternative schools through Annual Review.

Is the local authority able to share its funding criteria document and the banded funding amounts for each special need type?

Special school top up is currently a universal band agreed by Sandwell special school head teachers.  Each child receives the same top up amount which provides consistency in funding and allows school to manage their resources accordingly.  This model, which provides stability in funding, was the preferred model and agreed with head teachers.  The top up funding for each pupil would be £13,132.  

Are you proposing to use the same quantum for age and need as neighbouring local authorities?

Special school top up is currently a universal band agreed by Sandwell special school head teachers. Each child receives the same top up amount which provides consistency in funding and allows school to manage their resources accordingly.  This model, which provides stability in funding, was the preferred model and agreed with head teachers.  The top up funding for each pupil would be £13,132.  

Do you anticipate out of borough children requiring a place at the school?

The school is intended to primarily meet the needs of the children within Sandwell. If other LAs request places, Sandwell would have to ensure that this did not impact on the efficient education of pupils currently within the school. 

Will other local authorities commission places at the school? 

As above, it is intended that Sandwell Local Authority will commission the places at the new special school.

Additional FAQs from stakeholder event 26 June 2019

What areas does the LA envisage that will be shared collaboratively between the school and the adjacent secondary special academy?

Subject to design development with further consultation with the successful proposer upon their selection.

What relationships are there with other agencies / stakeholders, and how will they be involved?

Core services are provided by the local health authority.  The Sponsor may find that it will need to purchase additional support services, e.g., schools currently purchase their own Occupational Therapy service for specialist sensory assessment.

The site is described as ‘proposed’.  Is it proposed or now confirmed?  

The site is confirmed apart from final boundary between both schools, which is subject to final design sign off by the DfE.

Can the LA confirm the school’s proposed opening date?

The DfE are targeting a September 2022 opening, however the LA has indicated that a September 2021 would meet the current increased demand for places.

The LA’s specification indicates an intake of 18 alone for the first year of admission.  Would the LA consider a wider intake?

The LA has recently discussed the point with the DfE as our original bid assumed a rolling intake from Reception.  The DfE have confirmed that the intake does not have to be staggered and there are a sufficient number of pupils to admit in other year groups, subject to the sponsor being able to resource those additional years.

Due to the time deadline of 30 September 2019 for interested parties to submit applications to the DfE, are the LA able to assist individual Trusts in their engagement with key stakeholders? 

The LA’s view is that this is a question that should be raised with the DfE in order to provide a fair and transparent process for all parties pre-submission of applications.  The LA acknowledges that the school will not be a local community school due to its specialist nature, and therefore there is not a distinct local community to consult with. 

The New Schools Network (NSN) also suggest that the LA could hold a stakeholder event to which interested parties could be invited to participate.  NSN also advise that applicants as part of their application could chose to explain the level and limits to stakeholder engagement pre and post submission of their bids.

Would the LA be open to the school admitting Nursery age children?

The LA would not currently fund places for Nursery given its extensive support for this age through existing child development centre to assess developmental needs.  A lot of pre-school children tend to attend private nurseries and the LA does not foresee a demand for Nursery places at the school.

Can the LA confirm the sponsor for the DfE approved secondary school?

The sponsor is Forward Education Trust.

Does the LA Inclusive Services provide services directly to schools?

Only certain core services such as Educational Psychologists are provided to special schools.  There is some input from the Complex Communication and Autism team, however this is on referral basis.

Who is leading on design development, the LA or the DfE?

The DfE wish to use the application and selection period to develop a control option that can be issued to the appointed constructor.  The DfE will appoint external Technical Advisors to develop the scheme during 2019 in consultation with the LA.  It is our understanding that the successful sponsor will be involved with design development following their selection.

Will the school design be specific to the needs of pupils with ASD and MLD?

Yes, we wish to ensure that a specialist school is provided rather than a generic school design that will not meet the needs of pupils.