We asked for your views on proposals to close Westfield Special School sixth form. Wednesday 16 June 2021 to 5pm Friday 24 September 2021. This consultation is now closed.

Herefordshire Local Authority proposes the closure of the sixth form phase at Westfield Special School in Leominster.

The proposed closure, subject to the outcome of this consultation, would mean that the last intake of sixth form pupils to Westfield School would be in September 2021. All pupils attending the sixth form at that point would be able to remain at Westfield School to complete their sixth form years if they chose, but no new pupils would join after that time.

Beyond the start of the 2021-2022 school year, the local authority proposes to commission all sixth form places for young people with severe, complex, multiple and profound learning difficulties at a new specialist sixth form college in Hereford city, called the Beacon College.

Read the full details of the proposal to close the sixth form at Westfield Special School

Watch the recordings from the public meetings

Consultation documents

The following documents all provide background for and references to the proposal. They form part of the statutory proposal and were available to view before completing the consultation questionnaire.

We asked for your views

The consultation was open to all to comment. The closing date for comments was 5pm Friday 24 September 2021.

The proposal process

The steps in the proposal process are as follows:

  • A five week public consultation on the proposal to close the Westfield Sixth Form, ending on 20 July 2021 -  this was extended to 24 September 2021.
  • Opportunity for interested parties to join a virtual meeting Chaired by the Assistant Director for Education, Development and Skills, to ask any further questions about the proposal that they may have
  • After the end of the consultation period, time for the local authority to consider the consultation responses.
  • A decision on whether or not to proceed with the proposal to close the sixth form. The decision to be taken in accordance with council decision-making arrangements.
  • Publication of the decision, with feedback on the consultation process and content
  • Local Authority dialogue with the school about the decision and any necessary next steps, dependent on the nature of the decision.

Details of the proposal

Herefordshire Local Authority proposes the closure of the sixth form phase at Westfield Special School.

This proposal is to make a significant change (also called a prescribed alteration) and is subject to statutory consultation. Herefordshire Council, as the local authority is following the statutory guidance on consultation given in the Department for Education government document.

The school and the local authority that the proposal relates to

  • The school that the proposal relates to is Westfield Special School, Ryelands Road, Leominster, Herefordshire, HR6 8NZ.
  • The local authority that maintains the school is Herefordshire Council

The proposed closure, subject to the outcome of this consultation, would mean that the last intake of sixth form pupils to Westfield School would be in September 2021. All pupils attending the sixth form at that point would be able to remain at Westfield School to complete their sixth form years if they chose, but no new pupils would join after that time.

Beyond the start of the 2021-2022 school year, the local authority proposes to commission all sixth form places for young people with severe, complex, multiple and profound learning difficulties at a new specialist sixth form college in Hereford City, called the Beacon College. The opportunity to build the new college arose in 2017, when the local authority made a successful bid to the Department for Education for the funding. To find out more about the Beacon College please e-mail susan.woodrow@herefordshire.gov.uk

The Beacon College opens in September 2021, and will be run by the Accordia Academies Trust (formerly Barrs Court Trust). The only other sixth form that provides the same educational offer for this type of need and age group in Herefordshire is currently Barrs Court Hub on Symonds St in Hereford. As an Academy Trust, Accordia Academies Trust will be running their own consultation on the future of the Barrs Court sixth form.

Westfield Special School currently offers young people between the age of 16 and 19 with severe, complex, multiple and profound learning difficulties a sixth form education at Westfield school. In recent years, the school has had approximately 12 pupils within its sixth form phase across the three year groups (Year 12, 13 and 14).

It is anticipated that within three years of opening, Beacon College will offer sixth form education to approximately 60 students with these specialist needs. Herefordshire Local Authority has forecast the potential need for specialist places within this type of SEN and age group in the future: the new college has been built to be able to provide sufficient places for all young people in Herefordshire requiring a specialist sixth form place, including those few pupils who may wish to attend from neighbouring counties. In the long term, should numbers increase again, there is adequate space on the new site for the college to expand further.

Objectives

The objectives of the proposal to close Westfield Sixth Form are to:

  • Ensure that all young people with an education, health and care plan (EHCP) for severe, complex, multiple and profound learning difficulties have equal access to the same standard of high quality, ‘state of the art’ educational facilities that are commensurate with, or better than, other educational settings in the county
  • Ensure that the curriculum offered is broad, and to ensure that pupils have the widest possible choice of courses including the opportunity to access some learning at the other 16-19 colleges, if appropriate, which will be adjacent to the new Beacon College in Hereford
  • Enable young people with these types of specialist need to socialise and mix with a much wider group of their peers as they move towards adulthood, in a similar way to other young people joining a college for their sixth form education
  • Enable young people with these types of specialist need to take up a broad range of opportunities, including wider work experiences and internships across the county, including, if they wish, in their home community
  • Provide a central sixth form that supports equitable travel time and distances for all post-16 learners with these types of specialist need in Herefordshire
  • Ensure that each educational setting can operate in a cost effective way by having a narrower age-range to focus on

Staffing

The proposal may mean a staffing adjustment for Westfield School. The local authority will ensure that it works with Westfield School’s leadership team to support any unavoidable cost implications arising from the proposal if it is implemented.

Long term value for money and stability

Long term value for money and stability will be achieved for Westfield School by:

  • Taking forward the Westfield School capital project listed as top priority in Herefordshire Council's SEND capital investment strategy, recently agreed by Cabinet.

This project is currently being explored to determine feasibility and options and will then involve submission of a business case for capital investment to Herefordshire Council that would result in a completely new build for Westfield in Leominster or a rebuilding of the current Westfield accommodation. This will allow an increase to the number of pupils aged 2-16 that Westfield School can accommodate, thus supporting the school’s longer-term financial stability. The project would also seek to provide sufficient site space for the proposed new accommodation to be increased if demand for special school places continues to rise.

Further information

If you have questions or would like more information please contact: susan.woodrow@herefordshire.gov.uk

Published: 16th June 2021