Havering’s Accessibility Strategy and Strategy for Change in SEN is driven by the aims of providing high quality education for all pupils within local schools where all children have the opportunity to participate in the full range of activities available in these schools.
We aim to achieve this in three ways. The first is to develop Universal Provision, i.e. what is available in every school. The more that schools can recognise and accommodate individual differences the fewer special arrangements involving the provision of resources additional to or different from those generally available (statementing) will be required.
The following could constitute a core design brief in any new development to make it more inclusive so reducing barriers to achievement:
- A quiet room (not a therapy or medical room) to where children could be withdrawn to calm down or for assessment, individual teaching, etc.
- A SEN base on the ground floor and centrally located; big enough to host case conferences.
- A full sized high dependency toilet. This is far bigger than a DDA compliant toilet and should have room for two adults to change a pupil on a full sized changing table using a hoist.
- A separate medical room big enough for therapy but also for a full sized bed to enable pupils to rest (i.e. not in a high dependency toilet as sometimes currently happens). It will require adequate storage so there is no risk of cross contamination from equipment being stored together.
- Early diagnosis of hearing loss, together with good pre-school guidance, appropriate hearing aids and cochlear implants are making it possible for severely and profoundly deaf pupils to be educated in mainstream classes. Good standards for classroom acoustics are:
- Unoccupied ambient noise should not exceed 35dB.
- Reverberation time should not exceed 0.4 seconds across the frequency range 125Hz to 4000Hz.
- Signal to noise ratio should exceed 20dB across the frequency range 125Hz to 750Hz and 15dB across the frequency range 750Hz to 4000Hz.
- Good classroom acoustics will also benefit hearing pupils.
- Classrooms fitted with sound field systems.
- Classrooms to have doors not only to reduce ambient noise but to keep areas discrete and simple to aid those fazed by complexity, e.g. ASD youngsters.
- Signage that incorporates visual cues.
- Curtains fitted as standard to control potential glare but also reduce background noise levels.
- Colour code areas to make identification easy.
- Colour contrast between:
- Walls – skirting – floors
- Walls – door frames – floor
- Walls – light switches
- Non-glare surfaces and lighting that is not harsh
- Steps and stair edges sufficiently contrasted and handrails which
- extend beyond stairs.
- Walkways clear of coats, bags and other temporary obstructions i.e. storage should be in clearly demarcated areas.
- Stairs enclosed.
- Outside pathways clearly defined.
- Clearly demarcated areas on playground/playing fields with any equipment standing out from the surface and background.
All schools should also be embracing the opportunity to provide extended services e.g. breakfast clubs, homework clubs, after school clubs that enable them to support families. Clearly by emphasising the development of universal services and by inference the capacity of all schools to accommodate the needs of diverse groups this will ensure choice and access for parents and pupils to local schools. We are rolling out pupil progress monitoring software in a number of formats as pilot programmes which can accommodate P Levels and we will, following evaluation, select one system which we will expect all schools to adopt.
The second way is by developing specially resourced schools so that those pupils who may not be able to be accommodated within every school can receive an education appropriate to their needs within a specially resourced school. In the primary sector these exist for or are in development for pupils with hearing impairment, visual impairment, language difficulties, and behaviour emotional and social difficulties. In the secondary sector these exist for hearing impairment, language difficulties, and autistic spectrum disorders. Areas for development within the Primary Phase include the development of a specially resourced school for pupils with ASD. Areas for development within the secondary sector include a specially resourced school catering for pupils with visual impairment as we anticipate a cohort of seven visually impaired youngsters entering Year 7 from 2016 to 2020. However the most pressing need is for schools to develop the capacity to address the needs of those whose behaviour presents a challenge in the Secondary Phase.
The Local Authority has 3 PRUs catering for secondary aged pupils. One is a Tuition Centre for Years 10 and 11 who for a range of medical or health reasons cannot attend mainstream schools. There are 2 PRUs catering for young people with BESD. They have or are developing SEN Policies in line with the recommendations of the LAMB Enquiry. One of these is short stay in that the pupils stay for a maximum of a year, while the ARC offers a fulltime education for pupils in Years 10 and 11.
The SEN Section through DSG is making a significant financial contribution to meeting the needs of young people with BESD. Some of these are placed in residential schools for social reasons however 8 are in local day schools catering for BESD pupils. Overall this contribution to meeting the needs of young people with BESD otherwise than at mainstream schools from DSG amounts to over £350K a year. We would rather meet the needs of these young people in borough and are exploring the possibility of establishing a Learning Support Group in a specially resourced Secondary School.
The third way is to enhance the capacity of our special schools to meet a wider range of needs so reducing the demand for out of borough provision, which particularly when residential can be hugely expensive (up to £ 250,000 per pupil per year). A barrier to achieving this is the special school building stock being not being fit for purpose; requiring substantive work to remedy.
There are also hidden costs to using out of borough provision, which includes transport costs and loss of income to the local economy. Additionally the young people lose the opportunity to develop life skills in the community where they will live their lives. Particular needs which have resulted in the provision of out of borough education include post-16 special school provision for learners with learning difficulties and disabilities and young people with severe autistic spectrum disorders and challenging behaviour. However parents have also articulated a desire for their children to have the opportunity to mix socially and develop friendships with youngsters in their local community and local schools should be developing links with the three special schools in Havering and vice versa, not only to provide opportunities for social inclusion but to enable their students to benefit from the expertise that resides in special schools.
Currently one Havering special school has specialist status and we aspire to all three of the special schools having specialist status. We a commissioned a targeted review of post 16 SEN Provision in Havering in 2010 and are now piloting developments in this area through shared arrangements between the Sixth Form College and Hall Mead School and Havering College of Further and Higher Education and Corbets Tey Special School.
In summary we aim to develop:
- An increased range of specially resourced schools including those catering for ASD and VI.
- A specially resourced secondary school for young people with BESD.
- School based post-16 provision for students with LDD in collaboration with Further education Providers.
- Fully accessible schools exceeding DDA compliance.
- All special schools acquiring specialisms and specialist status.
- Provision for children with severe ASD and significantly challenging behaviour.
- Adoption of common pupil tracking software across the borough to facilitate the monitoring of pupil progress and the synergy between special and mainstream provision.
- Partnerships between special schools and mainstream schools that provide both curriculum and social inclusion opportunities.
- Opportunities for students with SEN to develop travel and life skills in their local community optimising their capacity to lead independent lives so investing in our future.
- Support for families.
- Smooth transition to adult services.