The Executive approved the recommendations for:
- the expansion in age range of Westhaven Special School from an age 4 to 16 to an aged 4 to 19 special school with effect from 1 September 2020
- an intake of up to 10 pupils across the school’s new for post-16 provision across the two years 12 and 13 cohorts from 1 September 2020
- the increase in capacity of the school overall from 138 places to 156 places following a recent review of the use of space on the school site
There is a projected increase in demand for special school places for pupils with complex learning difficulties due to demographic growth and an increase in the numbers of pupils with these learning characteristics.
Westhaven, in Ellesmere Road, Uphill, offers places to pupils from across the area aged 4 to 16 who experience complex barriers to learning for a range of reasons. A typical student at Westhaven will be working at Level 1 and above, will be diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), may be hyper-sensitive, may suffer from school phobia, have a hearing or sight loss, have moderate learning difficulties or a complex multi-diagnosis. This will be present in their Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP) paperwork.
At the moment Westhaven caters for children from age 4 until the end of KS4 or Year 11 (age 16). North Somerset Council’s executive member whose portfolio includes education, Cllr Catherine Gibbons, said: “For most pupils it is appropriate that they leave Westhaven at age 16 to access further education.
“But for a small number of some five pupils each year, it would be beneficial if they could continue to access Years 12 and 13 studies at Westhaven School to embed life skills further. They would then be better prepared to be more resilient adults before moving onto the further education sector, into apprenticeships, or when gaining employment.”
No new building on site will be needed to accommodate the post-16 provision but there will be some funding available to turn the current life skills room into a sixth form learning space, using funds provided by the special provisions fund – a government grant intended to enhance or provide new places for pupils with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).
Cllr Gibbons added: “I’m very pleased that we’ve made this decision meaning the school can expand from the beginning of the new school year in September and care for some of our children with the most complex of needs.”