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Powys County Council are proposing closing all specail needs units attached to primary schools

(19 Posts)
CwtchesAndCuddles Tue 04-Feb-14 12:59:53

The intention is for all of the children in the units to be supported in their local primary school.

There is already huge opposition to this proposal, facebook campaigns and a petition have already been set up. I'm not in Powys but a neighbouring authority, if Powys goes down this road then many others will follow...............

Link to the council consultation document

Link to the petition if anyone wants to sign.

StarlightMcKingsThree Tue 04-Feb-14 13:07:56

Whilst I'm certain this is a BAD thing. What evidence is there for the units in the first place in terms of outcomes?

I haven't seen anything that resembles good practice in the few I've seen. Though clearly the answer isn't to dump children in large noisy classrooms.

I just don't know that I would be lobbying to keep units open iyswim.

CwtchesAndCuddles Tue 04-Feb-14 13:27:45

There are some very good units attached to mainstream schools in my county - parents fight tooth and nail to get their children a place and they are in great demand and seem to be the right environment for supporting children who can't cope within a mainstream classroom but don't need a special school place. I know many children who attend units and have no idea what would happen to them if they had to go back to a mainstream classroom.
Powys is a geographically huge county and accessing good specialist provision is already difficult - I fear for the children who will be pushed back into local mainstream schools with very limited access to an "area team" for specialist support. There is going to be an increase in demand for special school places if this goes ahead and Powys special schools are already short of places..........
Units may not be ideal and I'm sure some are much better than others but this really seems to be a bad idea.

StarlightMcKingsThree Tue 04-Feb-14 13:46:45

I think the bad idea is that provision isn't being made for these children (shoving them in mainstream isn't the answer).

I wonder if there is an unwritten long-term policy? Is there an SEN academy chain free school or two popping up there?

In terms of units. The reason I find it difficult to understand whether they are a good thing or not is because a) there is no basic model and b) they are being used increasingly to 'contain' children who can't cope with mainstream but will be expensive to place elsewhere. This isn't their purpose, but increasingly it is their use.

CwtchesAndCuddles Tue 04-Feb-14 13:56:49

If I had to hazard a guess I would say the unwritten long term plan is to push everyone back into cheaper mainstream settings and get away with as little provision as possible, a money saving exercise hiding behind the concept of "inclusion".

I think inclusion is great but it doesn't work for all children and it certainly doesn't work if the resources are not made available! Care in the community was supposed to be the answer to everything but without resources we know how that has worked out.

StarlightMcKingsThree Tue 04-Feb-14 13:58:35

The thing that confuses me about that is that certainly in the LAs that I have experienced, the children are in units because they've already failed in mainstream.

osospecial Tue 04-Feb-14 14:44:09

I'm not from Powys but from another county in Wales and this sounds like a bad thing to me for those DC who fall between needing mainstream or SS. Especially if they are not coming up with any better alternatives in their place. I will sign the petition once I'm home later cwtches.

vjg13 Tue 04-Feb-14 15:09:39

The unit my daughter attended (not Wales) was totally unfit for purpose and the children would all have been better served by special school placements. I would have been delighted for it to close.

CwtchesAndCuddles Tue 04-Feb-14 15:35:09

I think the main concern here is that there will be no more special school places made available and the children, in many cases, are going to be placed back into the same mainstream schools that they were in before. I have no personal experience of any of the units in Powys but the parents of the children in these placements don't want them to close and are happy with the placements.

StarlightMcKingsThree Tue 04-Feb-14 15:48:35

Are they truly happy with the placements, or just scared of the idea of their children being abandoned (which sounds like what is being proposed)?

CwtchesAndCuddles Tue 04-Feb-14 16:54:45

The ones I know are very happy. The units in my county are fab too - while I appreciate some people have had negative experiences with units they can be very good - just another example of how provision differs from area to area.

nennypops Tue 04-Feb-14 18:30:38

They could find this a seriously false economy - when they find themselves having to pay for very expensive special school placements.

ouryve Tue 04-Feb-14 18:59:28

I was thinking that, nennypops - our LA have plans to open an ASD resource to reduce the number of out of borough placements they have to fund.

They have closed a resource for something else, but no one was applying for the places.

AgnesDiPesto Tue 04-Feb-14 19:29:58

We have no units they were closed 3-5 years ago. There are also no asd schools. All we have is sld (but increasingly PMLD) mld (increasingly sld) and mainstream. There is literally no suitable provision for a child who cannot learn in mainstram but is cognitively able. It's a very town and country divide. There is not the geographical concentration in terms of numbers so no chains etc interested. I don't think people outside cities or south east really understand if units close there will be noone stepping in offering an alternative. The alternative here is a 100 mile round trip to nearest asd school and there are parents who do that everyday. What you get instead of unit is outreach and a lot of forced HE.

PipinJo Tue 04-Feb-14 22:44:45

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

CwtchesAndCuddles Wed 05-Feb-14 08:28:38

I think it's just primary so you may be ok.

PipinJo Wed 05-Feb-14 18:27:37

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

clareedwards0 Wed 05-Feb-14 21:11:00

I live in an area where there are 3 SED (special educational needs units). They are so important to the children who go there. In Ystradgynlais all 3 units are at capacity. The children suffer from autism, adhd, dyspraxia etc. if they where to be put in mainstream school the other children would also suffer. these children need the extra help, if they have a upset and lash out at an "normal" child the parents would have
enough to say. It is not the child with disabilities fault it's how they express themselves. My son has speech difficulties and is taught in a mainstream class & has 10 hrs a week 1 2 1 to help him, if Powys get their way this will be scrapped. He has come on leaps & bounds since having 1 2 1. His work is getting as good as his peers. Take that away & I'm afraid he'll go backwards. Please sign the petition and stop this from happening.

bochead Wed 05-Feb-14 22:37:15

My Mum used to teach in Newham, a council that took everyone should be in mainstream to its extreme conclusion. She had several pupils who needed 2:1 TA support simply to keep everyone physically safe. For some it was for other people, but the odd poor little sod need 2 adults at all times to prevent self-harming. That's insane in terms of cost and the outcomes for these kids were not good (well nobody getting injured during the day has got to be the lowest target I can think of!). On occasion they needed 2 TA's per pupil cos the child was terminally ill, or had serious medical or care needs. A TA cannot provide the nursing type care some of those kids needed.

Inclusion is a great idea in theory and I firmly believe that most children should be in mainstream. However there are the exceptions, (my own amongst them sad) - these will now either be home educated OR suffer like the poor little souls of Newham.

Powys need to take another look at providing what children in their county NEED in terms of their education, instead of allowing themselves to be swept along by a political dogma that frankly fails far too many kids. The Newham example should show them it doesn't even save money ffs! Specialist Staff training is not reused as some disabilities/conditions may only arrive at a specific primary school once in a career, & unlike in a unit there is no chance to benefit from the gradual creation of a body of knowledge over time.

WTF happened to evidence based practice, early intervention or even bang for the tax payers buck? The surrounding counties will now experience an explosion in their SN population as smart families move house to avoid this nonsense, some that can't will homeschool. That still leaves a significant rump of children who are being set up to fail.

Budgets to local councils are being slashed across Wales so neighbouring counties will not be able to pick up the slack as there just aren't enough unit places anywhere. It's a real shame as for some specific disabilities Powys has some excellent units currently (worth moving across country for iykwim!).

The control of education needs to be removed from the hands of politicians at the local and national level as a matter of urgency in the UK.

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