Give your views on proposals to expand the number of places in autism bases in mainstream schools for September 2023.
22 March to 21 April 2023. This consultation is closed. Summary is available.
We asked for your comments in support of or against the proposals to create the new mainstream autism bases in Herefordshire. Thank you to those who took part.
Why we are proposing to expand the number of places in autism bases in our mainstream schools
Herefordshire Local Authority (LA) has two existing mainstream autism bases (MABs). One is for primary age children, at Hampton Dene Primary School as part of their Language and Communication Centre (LCC) and The Bridge is for secondary-age pupils at The Bishop of Hereford High School.
Both existing MABs are now full for new admissions in September 2023. Additionally, as a result of information received from the education and health staff at the Child Development Centre where children are assessed, diagnosed and supported in the Early Years, it is evident that there will be a need for a significant expansion in the number of specialist primary mainstream autism base places and we will need this additional capacity from September 2023. We have also had a high level of demand from parents who are seeking secondary specialist autism base provision as their children move from primary school to secondary school.
Location of the proposed autism bases
Herefordshire Council has identified four schools that have expressed a keenness and interest in hosting a MAB and have the physical space to host the base within their existing buildings. The new proposed bases will also give a better geographical spread within the county meaning travel distances for pupils can be reduced. The proposed bases are:
- Leominster Primary School (8 places)
- St Weonards Primary School (8 places)
- Earl Mortimer College Leominster (8 places)
- Aylestone High School, Hereford (8 places)
In each case, there is likely to be very minimal expenditure to ensure that the rooms identified are modified and equipped in readiness for their opening in September 2023. We also plan to offer the staff appointed appropriate further training in order to ensure they are well placed to carry out their new role.
We recognise this is a significant expansion in the number of places. We currently have 25 primary places and 8 secondary places. However, we also wish to ensure that we have sufficient places for September 2024 and beyond. The 8 places in each school are additional to the planned admission number (PAN) for the school.
The purpose of the MABs is to allow children who need additional support to access mainstream education to gain that support from specialist staff who work from the base classroom. The criteria for being offered a place at a MAB is that the children must have a diagnosis of autism and a level of educational need that can only met through a MAB as identified in their Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP). They must also have a reasonable prospect of being able to access some time in mainstream lessons. The bases are designated local authority specialist provision and therefore any decisions of pupil placement are made by the local authority in accordance with the statutory guidance in the SEND Code of Practice (2015). The host schools are consulted as part of the statutory EHCP process.
Funding for the autism bases
The MABs are funded in the same way as special schools and other specialist provision. The new MABs will be funded for 8 places plus individual pupil top-up funding in accordance with the level of need described in their EHC Plan.
Experience with our existing MABs has been highly positive and has created an ethos of inclusion throughout the schools concerned. We anticipate that the extension of our network of MABs will be highly beneficial to the whole community. Parents will know that, where their child has a diagnosis of autism and meets the criteria for entry to specialist provision, they will have specially trained staff to address their needs and some children will not have to travel as far to receive this support. Schools will know that children that require the specialist provision will be able to access it when it is needed. The schools hosting the MABs will benefit by acquiring a specialism and experience in the needs of children with autism, which will benefit all children attending the school.
Further information or questions
Please email SENDConsultations@herefordshire.gov.uk