Specialist Facility Consultation

To pupils, parents/carers, staff, governors and stakeholders 

Peacehaven Community School is proposing to extend the designation of the existing Specialist Speech and Language facility from 1st January 2022, to also include pupils aged 11-16 with a primary need of Autistic Spectrum Disorder.

Why are we proposing to extend the designation of the specialist facility at Peacehaven Community School?

The school, working with East Sussex local authority, has identified a need to extend the designation to ensure that the facility can meet the needs of local pupils with special education needs (SEN), reflecting the changes we are seeing to the type of SEN being presented.

Peacehaven Community School has a designated specialist facility for up to 20 pupils aged 11-16 with speech, language, and communication needs.

Across East Sussex, there are fewer pupils with Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) presenting with a primary need of speech, language, and communication needs. Since 2014/15 the number of pupils aged 4-10 years with an EHCP for speech language and communication needs has decreased by 111, from 329 pupils to 218 in 2020/21.

At the same time, the number of pupils with an EHCP for autistic spectrum disorder is increasing. Since 2014/15 the number of pupils aged 4 -10 years with an EHCP for autistic spectrum disorder has increased by 93, from 298 pupils to 406 in 2020/21. For pupils aged 11-15, since 2014/15 the number of pupils with an EHCP for this type of need has increased by 83, from 309 pupils to 392 in 2020/21. The local authority’s SEN forecasts for this type of show that the numbers of pupils with autistic spectrum disorder will continue to increase significantly over time.

Over the last five years, the school has expanded the range of special educational needs that can be met within the facility. This has resulted in pupils with a broader spectrum of needs than speech, language, and communication to be supported by the facility and an increasing number of pupils with autistic spectrum disorder needs.

Across East Sussex, there are five specialist facilities for secondary pupils with autistic spectrum disorder as their primary need. The SEN forecasts for East Sussex have identified the need for more special facilities that cater for pupils with autistic spectrum disorder including in Peacehaven.

Our proposal is to extend the designation of the specialist facility at Peacehaven Community School from 1 September 2022, to also include pupils aged 11-16 with a primary need of autistic spectrum disorder.

What are specialist facilities?
Specialist facilities are located within a mainstream school and provide specific support to a limited number of pupils with an EHCP naming a specific primary SEN. Pupils within the facility are on roll of the mainstream school and are in addition to the published admission number. The school receives additional funding from the local authority to support each child placed in the facility. Placements are determined by the local authority according to clear criteria and will be drawn from a wider geographical area than the school’s usual catchment area.

Specialist facilities provide pupils with EHCPs access to specialist support, whilst also allowing pupils to benefit from accessing mainstream provision and to be part of a mainstream school. A dedicated space within a school provides a base, support space, and teaching space. Specialist facilities play a critical role in the strategy for reintegration and the development of an inclusion ethos and inclusion practices across the school’s wider curriculum and provision. They also allow local schools to develop broader expertise for SEN which, in turn, benefits the school population as a whole.

Pupils in the facility have their special educational needs reviewed regularly in discussion with parents/carers and professionals to ensure that the facility remains the most appropriate placement to meet these needs.

What will be the impact of the extending of the designation on other pupils in the school?
We expect the proposal to have a positive impact on provision at the school. Specialist staff will continue to work with pupils in the facility and also work with teaching staff across the school to develop skills and expertise in responding to SEN needs and creating an inclusive environment.

Should the proposed change go ahead, new pupils admitted to the facility from September 2022 would include those with a primary need of autistic spectrum disorder, alongside pupils with a primary need of speech, language and communication needs. We feel that the facility is well placed to support children with both, or either, of these needs.

Will building work be required to establish the new facility and, if so, how will this be funded?

No. The school already has a specialist facility on site that can accommodate up to 20 children.

Why we are consulting on the proposed change
Before the academy can extend the designation of the facility, we are required to consult with the school community and key stakeholders. We are proposing the change to ensure that we can offer local provision for secondary-aged pupils with speech, language, and communication needs, and those with autistic spectrum disorder in the Peacehaven area for the future.

How can I give my views?
The consultation period runs from Monday 27th September to midnight on Friday 22nd October 2021.

You can give your views by:
‚óŹ Emailing the school at PCSconsultation@swale.at

All comments must be received by midnight, 22nd October 2021 or they cannot be considered.

What happens next?
Following the consultation period, the academy trustees will consider the responses and decide whether to continue to proceed. If it is agreed to proceed a business case will be submitted to the Regional Schools Commissioner for approval. If approved, the facility would accept children with a primary need of autistic spectrum disorder from 1st January 2022.

Click here for the PDF letter version

Click here for the Special Facility Consultation form