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Proposal to Develop a Special Educational Needs Unit at Mill Hill Primary School

1.0       Background

1.1      Mill Hill Primary School is a primary school based in the Doxford Ward. The school currently offers primary school provision for children from 5 to 11.   

2.0       Why are we proposing to make changes at Mill Hill Primary School?

2.1      The number of children who require additional support due to a special educational need has increased in Sunderland. More children now attend mainstream schools who require significant additional interventions to support them in their school place. This at times can exceed what a mainstream school has the resources to offer.

2.2      There is an identified need to increase the range and quantity of high-quality SEN provisions in local areas. This ensures children whom, with additional support, would find a mainstream school place is appropriate, can continue to access that within their own locality while also ensuring schools have the correct resources to meet increasing demand from pupils with additional SEN needs.

2.3      Mill Hill Primary School is in an area of significant development with a number of new homes in the area either complete, under construction or with planning permission. It is anticipated that a proportion of the children who will live in those new homes will have a special educational need requirement and, at present, the closest schools that could offer a suitable provision are either in Washington or North Sunderland.

3.0       What are we proposing to do?

3.1      The Council proposes that, in order to make provision more accessible for a wider range of families, it will create a SEN provision at Mill Hill Primary School for pupils with and Education Health and Care Plan that identifies Autism as a primary need. This will allow children who require a greater level of support from within the locality to access an appropriate school place with bespoke support.

3.2      The unit will complement the mainstream offer at the school with children on roll accessing both elements of the school's mainstream resource and educational offer and also accessing a SEN provision as required.

3.3      The proposal will ensure additional facilities are available to meet educational, sensory and nurture needs, provide access to specialist equipment (where required) and, by creating a local SEN offer, will reduce the time children are required to travel to access a special school place.

3.4      This proposal is part of a larger, citywide programme that is aimed to ensure children with SEN can access appropriate provision near their homes that meets their levels of need. It complements the existing local SEN units already operating across the city and this proposal, combined with the proposal to establish additional provision at Hudson Road Primary School for pupils with Social, Emotional and Mental Health requirements, would result in a combined 32 new special places for primary aged children in the South Sunderland area across two schools and two areas of special educational need.

4.0       Outcomes

The proposal would secure the following outcomes:

4.1       Increased capacity within the local SEN Sector

The proposal will add an additional 16 primary school places to Sunderland's current SEN offer. The proposal aims to ensure SEN places area available in localities so in the first instance it is anticipated that children accessing provision would be from East and West Sunderland with children from other planning areas accessing places as appropriate.

4.2       Increase Appropriateness of SEN Placements

The ongoing diversification of the range of SEN provision in Sunderland will ensure that there are multiple levels of placements for local children. The creation of additional resourced units provides greater opportunity for those children who can thrive in a mainstream environment but who need additional support can do so, while those who require a special school place are more likely to be accommodated more expediently due to the increased local capacity across the wider SEN sector.

4.3       Increased Efficiencies in Commissioning

A benefit of increasing local access to SEN provision is that pupils do not have to travel as far to access central citywide or out of area provisions. Being able to provide local facilities therefore reduces commissioning costs such as home to school transport costs and the costs associated with out of area placements.

5.0       Statutory Requirements

5.1      To facilitate the above proposals it is required to make to following changes to the current Mill Hill Primary School

Establishment or change in type of Special Educational Needs Provision

6.0       Next Steps

6.1      The Council would like to know what you think about the proposals. This initial consultation will open on Monday 10th November 2023 and will close on Friday 22nd December 2023.

You can respond by accessing the consultation online or using the QR code below.

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