Cabinet has agreed to realign Learning Support Classes (LSCs) across Rhondda Cynon Taf to better meet the needs of pupils with additional learning needs (ALN). However, proposals for classes at Hafod and Penrhys Primary Schools were amended following feedback during the public consultation.
At their meeting on January 24, Cabinet considered proposals to improve LSC provision for learners in an ongoing review of the Council’s support for pupils with ALN. The need to regularly review provision is highlighted by the Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Act, introduced in January 2018.
Currently, £3.3m is allocated to ALN for mainstream schools in Rhondda Cynon Taf, including statutory and non-statutory provision for learners with severe and persistent needs. Pupils with more significant needs and who require intensive support are placed in specialist settings. An extensive range of specialist provision is currently available in Rhondda Cynon Taf, including 46 LSCs, two Pupil Referral Units and four special schools.
The proposals consulted upon, outlined in full below, are aimed at reducing surplus places, promoting early intervention, and avoiding unnecessary transition between LSCs in different locations for vulnerable learners. They also sought to relocate classes into school settings which have benefitted from considerable 21st Century investment, where possible.
Following approval from Cabinet in October 2018, consultation event in respect of the proposals were held by from October 19 to December 21. There was a limited response to the majority of the proposals, with the exception of the transfer of the Foundation Phase LSC from Penrhys Primary to Maerdy Primary, and the transfer of the Key Stage 2 LSC at Hafod Primary to Porth Community School. These two proposals had a very large response.
Having considered the consultation feedback, amendments to the proposals were put forward during Thursday’s meeting by Councillor Joy Rosser, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Education and Lifelong Learning.
In respect of Penrhys Primary, the Foundation Phase LSC will be relocated to Maerdy Primary but bespoke provision will be offered for the one child currently accessing this provision so that continuity in learning can be provided. This interim measure will be provided until transition into the Key Stage 2 LSC in Penrhys Primary School.
In respect of Hafod Primary, the proposal to close the Key Stage 2 LSC will not be progressed. However, the proposed new Key Stage 2 LSC provision for Porth Community School will still be created so that learners are provided with the opportunity to benefit from an all-through specialist provision from Foundation Phase to Key Stage 4 in this setting.
Cabinet Members agreed all of the initial proposals with the exception of the two proposals relating to Penrhys Primary and Hafod Primary. The amended proposals relating to these two LSCs were agreed.
Councillor Rosser said: “Proposals to realign LSC classes in specific communities across the County Borough were put forward following an in-depth analysis of the Council’s current provision, which provides ALN pupils with excellent support for their specific needs.
“We recognise that any change to school classes can present uncertainty for parents and pupils, but these proposals have a clear rationale – including tackling high rates of surplus places, both current and projected. They are not about making savings, but instead to improve our SEN provision. Any savings made from these changes will be reinvested within our SEN provision.
“Two of the proposals, relating to existing LSCs at Penrhys Primary and Hafod Primary, received significant feedback throughout the consultation. Cabinet was clear in agreeing this consultation that views from residents would be taken into consideration in any final decision on the matter.
“Having considered this, Cabinet agreed to amended proposals which would see the one current pupil in Penrhys receive a bespoke provision at his/her current school for an additional year, until he or she reaches Key Stage 2. Members also agreed not to progress proposals for the Key Stage 2 LSC at Hafod, while still creating the proposed new LSC at Porth Community School.”
The initial proposals consulted upon are listed below, which have now been agreed. Amendments to the two proposals are indicated. The relevant Statutory Notices for the changes will be published on February 13, 2019.
- The creation of a new Key Stage 3 and 4 LSC provision at Ysgol Nantgwyn.
- The creation of a new Key Stage 3 and 4 LSC provision at Treorchy Comprehensive School.
- The re-designation of the Foundation Phase LSC at Darran Park Primary and Foundation Phase Observation and Assessment Class at Llantrisant Primary – to become Early Years Assessment and Intervention LSCs for pupils under statutory schools age with significant presenting needs.
- To relocate the Foundation Phase LSC from Caradog Primary to Cwmbach Primary, creating a cross-phase provision from Foundation to Key Stage 2.
- The closure of the Key Stage 2 LSC at Caradog Primary, with its eight pupils transferring to Cwmbach Primary LSC.
- The closure of the Foundation Phase LSC at Heol y Celyn Primary (no pupils are affected by these proposals).
- The closure of the Foundation Phase LSC at Penrhys Primary (no pupils are affected by these proposals).
- The closure of the Key Stage 2 LSC at Penywaun Primary (no pupils are affected by these proposals).
- The closure of the Foundation Phase LSC at Pontygwaith Primary (no pupils are affected by these proposals).
- The closure of the Key Stage 2 LSC at Heol y Celyn Primary.
Agreed Amended Proposals
- To not progress the proposal to relocate the Key Stage 2 LSC at Hafod Primary School to Porth Community School, but to instead create a new Key Stage 2 LSC provision in Porth Community School.
- To progress the proposal to relocate the Foundation Phase LSC from Penrhys Primary School to Maerdy Primary School, but the offer of providing bespoke support to the one child currently attending the Foundation Phase class should be made in the mainstream setting, to enable continued attendance in the same school until transition into the Key Stage 2 LSC provision in Penrhys Primary takes place. This proposal will not affect the two existing
Key Stage 2 classes at Penrhys Primary School.
Posted on Friday 25th January 2019