Turing House in the headlines today - and not in a good way.

(87 Posts)
MrsSalvoMontalbano Fri 08-May-15 13:02:35

boy with learning difficulties turned away

muminlondon2 Fri 08-May-15 14:44:56

There was controversy at another RET school over insensitive remarks apparently made by the headteacher about SEN:

www.brentwoodgazette.co.uk/Mum-s-outrage-headteacher-s-strapped-comments/story-23177791-detail/story.html

bluestars Fri 08-May-15 16:25:26

That story doesn't seem to chime with what's happening at the school according to Ofsted.
From the Becket Keys Outstanding Ofsted report:
"The proportions of disabled students and those that have special educational needs, mostly moderate learning difficulties, supported by school action, school action plus or by a statement of special educational needs are higher than average."

"Disabled students and those who have special educational needs make rapid progress because they are identified early on arrival. They are known well and are nurtured in small groups to help them gain confidence and competence in reading, writing and mathematics. Additional help from teachers working alongside other teachers in lessons, and personalised, one- to-one support, enable the students to secure basic literacy and numeracy skills. Regularly reading aloud to teachers and responding to written feedback from teachers about their spelling and use of grammar help students to improve their confidence and understanding."

muminlondon2 Sat 09-May-15 08:54:53

There were interesting FB comments on the Becket Keys article that suggest several children with SEN had been turned down, and not all those whose children did get into the school felt supported. Most shocking were comments from BK parents saying 'if you don't like it, go somewhere else', which is not at all inclusive or, in the case of that school, Christian.

bluestars Sat 09-May-15 09:56:47

Well I certainly agree that that comment sounds horrendous. But looking a the quality of reporting in our local rag and how things are taken out of context and skewed then I am still sceptical. I certainly don't think you can justify using a local dispute at another RET school, that is contradicted by the Ofsted report, to cast judgement on TH's SEN provision. Are you busy digging around the other RET schools to see if they also have disputes with parents about SEN provision? Have you found anything? Are you also looking at the other mainstream schools in Richmond or Kent? Are they all without incident?

muminlondon2 Sun 10-May-15 00:27:30

I've been aware of controversies over Becket Keys for a while - e.g. its headteacher had no secondary teaching experience and its funding agreement consultation was very close to the opening date which upset locals. That was just one of the stories but it rang a bell when I saw the RTT about TH. I think the first thing I read was a challenge by the BHA over its admissions policies. That was when I was following the RISC debate, but to be honest I hadn't realised it was a RET school at the time.

bluestars Sun 10-May-15 09:38:43

Well the "inexperience" of the head doesn't seem to have been an issue - they have "outstanding" in leadership and management. Maybe that is testament to the support and expertise of the RET team behind the school. Timing of funding agreements is a fault of the ridiculous free school process - I'm not going to defend that. And I'm never going to defend a faith based admissions policy smile

But I still think it too much of a jump to link comments at BK to the TH headline the other day and imply a common issue at RET schools.

Nexie16 Sun 10-May-15 10:33:27

I think the child would probably be better off at Clarendon but can understand why the parents might have though Turing House would have been a good option for him based on the Turing House website information. I think that advertising needs to be addressed or a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority ought to be made as it is unfair on parents who think the school provides adequate SEN provision to be turned away because the provision is not available. It´s not fair on them to be told that they cannot provide support staff to assist him or that ´it would prejudice the efficient provision of education´ for other pupils.

Secondly, I think the parent has a right to be riled by the comment of her boy being an ´unreasonable use of public expenditure´.Turing House school has funding just like any other in order to provide provision for her child and this should not be used as an excuse. See below:

The new school funding system and SEN

Funding is agreed locally and is given to schools under three main headings:

Element 1: an amount of money for each pupil in the school

Schools get most of their funding based on the total number of pupils in the school. Every pupil in a school attracts an amount of money. The amount varies from one authority to another. There is usually more funding for each pupil in a secondary school than in a primary school. In 2013, all secondary schools, including academies, are getting at least £3,000 for each pupil and all primary schools are getting at least £2,000 for each pupil.
This is the core budget for each school and it is used to make general provision for all pupils in the school including pupils with SEN.

Element 2: the school’s notional SEN budget

Every school receives an additional amount of money to help make special educational provision1 to meet children’s SEN. This is called the ‘notional SEN budget’.
The amount in this budget is based on a formula which is agreed between schools and the local authority. The formula usually gives more money to schools that have more children on free school meals and more children who are not doing as well as others in English and Maths. This provides a good guide to how many children with SEN a school is likely to have.
A small number of schools may find they have many more children with SEN than expected. This might happen where, for example, a school has a good reputation for teaching children with SEN. Where this does happen, the school can ask the local authority for additional funding.
The government has recommended that schools should use this notional SEN budget to pay for up to £6,000 worth of special educational provision to meet a child’s SEN. Most children with SEN need special educational provision that comes to less than £6,000.

Reminder: special educational provision is anything that is ‘additional to or different from’ the provision that is made for all children. Provision which is for all children is funded from the core budget.

Element 2 is called the notional SEN budget because no-one tells schools exactly how they should spend their money. When funding is delegated to schools, they can spend it in the way they think is best. However, schools have a duty to identify, assess and make special educational provision for all children with SEN; and the local authority has a duty to set out what schools are expected to provide from their delegated budget. 2 This information must be published on the local authority website.3

Element 3: top-up funding

If the school can show that a pupil with SEN needs more than £6,000 worth of special educational provision, it can ask the local authority to provide top- up funding to meet the cost of that provision. Where the local authority agrees, the cost is provided from funding held by the local authority in their high needs block.
Element 3 is provided by the local authority for an individual pupil who has a high level of needs and schools are expected to use this funding to make provision for that individual pupil.

Academies (This includes free schools, City Technology Colleges, University Technical Colleges.)

Academies are funded through the Education Funding Agency, not through the local authority. Academies get the same level of funding for each pupil as local authority schools in the same area; their notional SEN budget is worked out in the same way; they can get top-up funding from the local authority in the same way. Academies do get extra funding, but this is not related to SEN: it is for services that Academies have to buy for themselves, services that are provided by the local authority for local authority schools.

Nexie16 Sun 10-May-15 10:39:26

So Turing House has got extra funding for SEN provision allowed for in the school´s budget but ´they have to buy it for themselves´. So when the Head said ´Turing House would unable to provide hours of one-on-one support´, this is untrue. They would just have to factor it into their budget just like any other local school does in order to meet the needs of all of their pupils and therefore be a truly inclusive school.

I´m also confused by the Head´s statement at the end of the article that says ´we have not refused the entry of any student with a statement of SEN´. Surely this parent would beg to differ.

Nexie16 Sun 10-May-15 10:44:53

In terms of advertising on the schools website (quoted below), this makes the school seem like an extremely attractive option to parents of SEN kids and one worth travelling to. Particularly with just year 7s and the focus on a small community feel where every child is known by name etc.

`Special Educational Needs & Disabilities
Students with Special Educational Needs or Disabilities (SEND) will enjoy the full curriculum, which will be appropriately differentiated at subject level, as required for each student. The school’s overall approach will be to ensure that every student is competent and confident in the core skills of literacy, numeracy, critical thinking and ICT. Our aim is therefore that every student should be accredited in core subjects by age 16 or earlier.
The responsibility for the achievement and performance of all students, particularly students with SEND, lies with the class teacher. However, we also anticipate that the Special Educational Needs Coordinator will play a crucial role in providing effective leadership in this highly important area.

In particular, the school will support students with SEND in the following ways:
Every member of staff will be trained in SEND issues and will know how to draw on specialist support
•Every student will be entitled to equal access to the curriculum – we see this as a crucial aspect of the inclusive ethos of the school. Where reduction of the curriculum options is necessary for a few students according to their identified needs, this will be in consultation with parents and relevant professionals supporting the student.
•The school will prioritise early identification of need and allocation of resources for students, drawing fully upon the experience, skills and knowledge of students’ primary school teachers.

•The school will ensure that inclusive practice is of the highest calibre right across the school, and embedded in all school policy. The school will seek to remove barriers to learning at all times.
•The school’s SEND policy will be developed with reference to all relevant legislation, codes of practice and subsequent guidance.
•In-depth, regular evaluation of progress for each student with SEND will occur and be supported where necessary by small group of individual work with expert practitioners.
•Annual reviews of progress for all students with SEND will be fully integrated into whole-school reviews and target-setting.
High quality decision-making about relevant ongoing support for each student with SEND will be backed by research monitoring the progress of small groups of students representing a wide range of needs.´

bluestars Sun 10-May-15 10:48:24

Nexie16 -
It’s an unfair article in my opinion. He has a place at Clarendon which means he must have been turned down by all the mainstream schools he applied to and referred by the Local Authority’s Special Needs panel. The LA must have agreed with TH and thought that Clarendon was the best fit, it’s an LA decision. Why focus on TH’s response and not the other schools?
Regardless of funding it seems to me that one of the main arguments was that the environment will not be right for this child - there is going to be building work going on for the first year. No good for quiet break-out zones and low noise levels.
The terms that are used sound harsh but they are stock phrases used by all schools when dealing with SEN bureaucracy, anyone in education will recognise them.
Poor reporting.

Nexie16 Sun 10-May-15 11:11:16

I agree that Clarendon is the best option for the child.

I wasn´t aware that the child had a problem with noise levels or that there would be significantly noisy building work occurring during the school day. That´s a good point to raise. Thank you.

I agree that the article wasn´t particularly favourable to TH, particularly the comment about Turing himself having special needs, Asperger´s.

Nexie16 Sun 10-May-15 11:13:08

Plus, you are right it is a bit unfair, it did just highlight one particular case. It would be different if there were other parents who were excluded similarly. We don´t know how many SEN children will be accepted and how many were not.

Tbh, Turing House don´t do themselves any favours either. If they didn´t want to accept the boy they could have just said he lives too far away.

bluestars Sun 10-May-15 11:20:21

Having just lived through 2/3 years of solid building work at Stanley I know that however hard you try and minimise work during the school day there is always disruption. I'm guessing it will be the same at TH.

Nexie16 Sun 10-May-15 11:53:43

Wow bluestars, 2-3 years, those poor staff and students.

muminlondon2 Sun 10-May-15 11:56:34

bluestars, just going back to your last point to me. The management team behind RET do seem very competent, I wouldn't dispute that. RET advisers are also Ofsted inspectors so they know exactly what boxes to tick - Becket Keys would also have had 'test' inspections to ensure they were well prepared.

However, the head of a local association of headteachers did question RET's judgement in putting forward that initial admissions policy, using both 50% faith criteria and feeder CofE schools (85% selection according to the BHA). It looks like their complaint to the Schools Adjudicator along with that of the BHA forced the school to adjust its policy rather quickly, although this went down badly with the school's own supporters.

I've looked back at the relevant mumsnet Richmond thread over the Catholic school ( Sun 12-Feb-12), and Becket Keys' initial policy was brought up at the time.

muminlondon2 Sun 10-May-15 12:46:35

the environment will not be right for this child - there is going to be building work going on for the first year

There will of course be change at Clarendon and building works as it is to transfer to the Richmond College site. Currently it is no nearer than TH in its temporary location and will have only 100 pupils, so it's not a completely unrealistic aspiration to have applied to that school from Barnes. We don't know whether other schools turned the child down, good point - but the parent was clearly upset by the tone of the response, even if it employed the usual legal disclaimers.

muminlondon2 Sun 10-May-15 12:51:27

And of course applications to TH were in addition to the LA route this year which might have set up expectations that parents - including those whose children have SEN - can legitimately apply for, and hold, two offers.

bluestars Sun 10-May-15 15:22:24

Just to clarify the process a little, as I understand it, the TH letter was sent to the LA not the mother (although she obviously has a copy). The LA would have received responses from all mainstream schools applied for. As TH was outside the coordinated process this year there must have been at least one other (I would hazard a guess at Orleans given its "enhanced specialist teaching provision"). As Clarendon was the result then all the schools must have had reservations about their ability to care for the child. I would argue that the language used is professional rather than insensitive, but I agree it sounds bad when taken out of context. It's the LA who makes the final call (they can disagree with a schools assessment) not the school. In this case they obviously agreed with TH.

Muminlondon - you are right that Clarendon will also have a rebuild soon. As they are solely focused on high need provision for 100 children I would expect them to manage the work appropriately for those in their care. Hopefully REEC have taken that into account.

As for the BK admissions policy, let's hope lessons have been learnt. I personally disagree with any faith based selection in schools and would like to see them all follow the lead of St Luke's Primary School in Kingston.
www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-32587694

muminlondon2 Sun 10-May-15 16:53:08

bluestars I agree that in the end TH wasn't prepared enough to take on this pupil (in the sense of equipped - it's early days to know whether it would refuse others in the future). So the LA may have made an appropriate assessment.

Regarding lessons learned, RET does sponsor three religious schools out of five - it is something of a specialty. I'd rather see a limit on the number of new church schools generally, no religious free schools at all (including this blurred distinction of 'ethos'), with the LA having a greater role in planning where all new schools are located and in influencing admissions policies, taking the needs of the community as a whole.

But new government: lessons learned for policy? maybe more of the same? That discussion for the other thread, perhaps, as it all unfolds.

Heathclif Mon 11-May-15 10:29:52

I would also add that although all parents of children with SEN generally face a difficult educational environment at primary and secondary level LBRUT are actually one of the better authorities in terms of both their assessment processes and provision, particularly in terms of actually having the will to provide. A parent is more likely to get provision that is right for their child here than in many boroughs. I suspect the RTT reporting wasn't fair in terms of the parent's perspective either, we don't get any reporting of their response to the process as a whole and the final outcome. One wonders if the RTT reporter thought that such a piece would get a positive response from readers because of the perceptions of Free Schools in general and the furore over the possible Whitton site. It was sloppy and subjective reporting and anyone with experience of SEN provision would have viewed it with scepticism. I actually think it adds to the unhelpful stereotyping of parents of SEN children as pushy and demanding which can get in the way of being able to assert their needs and get the right support. But then the Press are always happy to embrace a stereotype hmm

Finding the right school for your child is an emotional business anyway but the more so of your child has special needs and it will take exceptional support to enable them to achieve their potential so it can be quite hard to be subjective as a parent.

The term SEN, as we have discussed before encompasses a very wide range of needs and it does need a process that can be more objective in balancing the needs of the individual and the ability of schools to meet those needs, it does appear that the process, though the words employed may appear harsh out of context, arrived at a solution that would best meet the needs of this child, not that we will ever know because the RTT is never in the business of exploring the issues in depth......

bluestars Mon 11-May-15 11:05:31

I agree Heathclif. Interesting that the story has not been published online - maybe RTT realise that they were wrong on this one.

Regasmin Mon 11-May-15 14:24:34

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

MrsSalvoMontalbano Mon 11-May-15 14:40:04

On a previous thread I questioned the validity of TH ring-fencing its catchment to include children from Teddington and a few from Whitton, thus excluding those from maybe not such naice families if the catchment was on distance from its likely Whitton site.
So not really surprising that harder-to-teach DC are excluded.

bluestars Mon 11-May-15 15:00:37

MrsSalvo –
As I also explained on the other thread that the TH admissions point does not favour “nice families”, it favours the area identified by TH and the council to be affected by lack of school places. In the same area is Stanley, the schools my DC goes to, which has 15%fsm allocation in reception. It’s a great community school and it’s these kids that TH is being set up to serve. Take a look at the maps linked to on the other thread and you can see that the TH admissions point is not in the most affluent area of the borough and is not targeting "Teddington" kids. It’s set to serve Fulwell, North Teddington and SW Twick. It’s simply not correct keep referring to TH as a Teddington school.

Also “ring-fencing” is not correct either. TH does not have a hard-border which acts as a cut-off for admissions. It has a point from which distance is measured. There has been discussion about how the allocation is very unlikely to be circular around this point due to other popular school and natural features such as the park. Consider this and look at the maps again - TH will serve a diverse area.

(Why are we repeating ourselves and splitting this debate over 2 threads?)

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