Rationale, Vision and Ethos
The Kemnal Academies Trust proposes to establish a day, co-educational special school in the London Borough of Bexley. It will provide highly specialised education for 120 pupils between 11 and 19 years old, with an Education & Health Care Plan, with moderate learning difficulties with associated additional needs including autism, speech, language & communication difficulties, associated social and emotional difficulties and sensory impairments.
The Local Authority have also identified approximately five students each academic year who may be more academically able but who are unable to cope with the demands of mainstream education. The majority of these students have a diagnosis of an autistic spectrum disorder and are currently accessing expensive out of borough provision.
There are currently 50 pupils in LB Bexley, between 11 and 19 years old, whose statements are in this category, who are likely to be appropriate for the school. The London Borough of Bexley have committed to commissioning 94 pupils for the first academic year following the schools opening rising to 120 over the following three years.
The new free school will aim to achieve significantly improved outcomes for this specific cohort of pupils thereby dramatically improving their life chances.
The new free school will be particularly distinctive from existing local provision as it will work in partnership with its co-located mainstream school, Cleeve Park, wherever possible to maximise inclusivity of SEN pupils to mainstream education and providing access to mainstream teaching and shared facilities. For example, learning experiences will be enhanced through opportunities and enrichment activities in the expressive arts in a purpose built Arts facilities, delivered in collaboration with Cleeve Park School staff and students.
Therefore, co-location with a mainstream secondary school is key to the success of this high quality bespoke provision; allow a unique opportunity for pupils within Bexley to flexibly access mainstream and specialist provision. Funding is very limited for SEN and co-location enables partnership working across the schools to provide skilled and flexible provision within a highly cost effective model.
The Free School proposal responds directly to a need identified by the local authority. The London Borough of Bexley has acknowledged the need for this school. The Deputy Director of Education and Services for Children at LB Bexley has discussed with TKAT, the increase in need for high quality specialist secondary places for pupils with moderate learning difficulties and to potentially reduce the number of children placed out of the borough.
LB Bexley are in the process of approving their strategy for SEN in the borough, this proposal meets the following key objectives of their strategy
- The importance of educating children within their own communities and close to home
- Better and wider opportunities for young people to participate in the everyday activities that all children and young people have in their local community e.g. after school clubs
- The same opportunities as other children in further learning and training and access to employment and independent living as they move to adulthood
- Additional choice for children and parents as to the sort of education offered for children with SEN.