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Proposed Nursery Provision at Riverside School

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

The London Borough of Bromley is committed to ensuring that children and their parents are listened to and that they are involved in decisions which affect their lives.

These FAQs respond to the questions raised during phase 1 of the consultation in September/October 2017 and also the statutory consultation in January 2018.

1. Timing of the proposal to establish nursery provision at Riverside School and the broader review of the LB Bromley SEND offer

Q. Is this proposal a significant change in policy and allocation of funding when a wider strategic review of the LB Bromley SEND offer (SEND4change review) is still underway and is yet to report?

A. This proposal is similar to the direction of travel of SEND provision nationally. Most local authorities have specialist early years provision, for pre-school age children, within special schools as part of their local offer for children with the most complex needs. This provision is for children whose assessed needs are unlikely to be met in a mainstream pre-school setting. Feedback, so far, from SEND4change confirms that the proposal will not run counter to the emerging strategy for SEND.

Q. Is there a possibility that a nursery provision could be opened at the Riverside Beckenham site – Orpington is a long way for those that might live in Penge for example?

A. Riverside School and the local authority work in partnership and through the work that we are doing to ensure there sufficient appropriate places in Bromley, we will review the possible options

2. Access to the proposed nursery provision at Riverside School

Q. Does my child have to have a finalised Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) to attend the proposed provision?

A. No, but an EHC needs assessment would need to have been agreed, with the assessment process well underway.

Q. Would attending the nursery provision guarantee an ongoing place at Riverside School at Reception age?

A. A pre-school place does not automatically guarantee a place in the same school at Reception age.  However, it is likely that most of the children placed in the early years provision at Riverside, as part of or following the completion of an EHC needs assessment, would progress into Riverside School at Reception age.  The placement of children is based on individual needs and the purpose of the assessment and annual review process is to ensure that children are placed in an appropriate environment with the right support. So, if a child’s needs were to change, the Local Authority would work with parents and schools to identify a different placement at Reception age if that best meets the needs of the child.

Q. If a child does not join Riverside School at pre-school age, can they secure a school place at Riverside School at a later date?

A. All placements are based on an assessment of need.  If a placement at Riverside School is determined to be the most appropriate, the child could join the school without having first been in the nursery provision, should there be capacity in a specific year group.

Q. How does the proposal impact on parents’ and carers’ right to request a particular early years setting or school as part of the EHC needs assessment?

A. The rights of parents and carers to request a particular setting or school remain the same and practice is in line with the SEND Code of Practice (section 9.79).

Q. When should an EHC needs assessment commence for pre-school aged children with complex needs to ensure a fair and transparent system?

A. It is important that when a child’s needs are identified, they are brought to the attention of the local authority.  This is usually done with the professionals who are working with the family and the timing of requests will vary, depending on individual needs.  In Bromley, a decision making panel reviews all requests for statutory assessment and will make a decision based on the evidence available to them at the time.  Where it is clear that a child has special educational needs and/or disability where their needs will require a higher level of provision and support than is ordinarily available, then a statutory assessment should be applied for.

3. Distance from home and travel assistance to access the proposed provision

Q. The direction of the broader SEND review is towards developing greater specialist knowledge and provision in mainstream schools, colleges and early years settings. Will consideration be given to how specialist early years provision may be made at other locations in the Borough so that children can attend a setting near their home?

A. Specialist place planning is a focus of Phase 2 of the SEND4Change review to develop sufficient specialist provision, as part of the Local Offer, in the right places, across the age range.  In planning provision, the Local Authority will work with parents and other partners, including the private, voluntary and independent (PVI) sector to shape the Local Offer of services and specialist provision for pre-school age children.

Q. Some children live a distance from Riverside School. Long journeys for very young children could have a negative impact on children’s physical and emotional well-being and distance could discriminate against families living towards, for example, the north of the borough or families with no means of transporting their child to the nursery. Is there a statutory duty to provide travel assistance for children attending the proposed Riverside nursery?

A. We understand parents’ concerns about journey times, particularly for very young children.  The Local Authority seeks to apply the DfE Good Practice Guidelines for home to school transport for children with special educational needs. There is no statutory duty to provide transport to children under compulsory school age but local authorities do have discretionary powers and the Local Authority will provide assistance if it’s necessary to enable children to attend early years education.

Q. With all the possible pick-ups along the way, the journey could be over an hour long, which is the limit under DfE guidelines – what would happen if this was the case?

A. The local authority must stick to the guidelines and therefore if this was the case, we would need to put additional transport on for those that are eligible for the service.

Q. Will my child be safe on transport, if that was an option?

A. The local authority carries out risk assessments for children with specific needs who access the SEN transport services to ensure that their needs are being met both  with the support from ‘escorts’ (people who accompany children) and also through appropriate adaptions and seating.  This is all based on the individual needs of the child.

4. Impact on existing early years specialist assessment and provision

Q. Will children who attend the proposed nursery lose Support for Inclusion in Pre-School settings (SIPS) funding in a mainstream pre-school?

A. The EHC Plan will identify provision for a child which may include support in a mainstream setting for parents eligible for 30 hours childcare. Funding for childcare will contribute to a placement in the nursery.

Q. My child is entitled to 30 hours of free childcare, can I access this at the proposed nursery provision?

A. We recognise that some children will be eligible for 30 hours childcare and we will have individual conversations with families around this.  We envisage that the specialist offer will cover the first 15 hours and then we would look at how this could be ‘topped-up’, but it would be individual to each child and their needs.

5. Space considerations/impact on children already placed/length of day

Q. Will children be absorbed into existing classes at Riverside School (Reception, Yr1 and Yr2) rather than there being a separate nursery class?

A. How the school is organised is a matter for the Headteacher. To prepare for accommodating younger children, the school has already re-organised to create three early years classes.  Pre-school children will join one of these early years classes.  The school considers the needs of each child carefully in deciding class groups, taking into account their age, their cognitive abilities and sensory and physical needs.  Children joining the nursery, should it be approved, from April 2018, will join established early years classes which will to begin with include some slightly older key stage 1 children.

Q. How will the part-time places work?

A. Riverside School is committed to ensuring that the structure of the day - works effectively for both nursery-aged and existing children.  Through discussion with families, it was felt that full days for children would be more beneficial instead of split days i.e. just mornings or afternoons.  The offer would be 15 hours per week which is likely to be delivered over 2.5 days, and the school would work with individual families to ensure the offer is appropriate to meet their child’s needs.

Q. If my child attends the proposed Riverside nursery for 2 or 2.5 days per week, could they attend another setting for the rest of the week?

A. Provision is determined through the EHC Needs Assessment and will be individual to each child’s needs, in discussion with their family.  If provision elsewhere was identified as being required, the proposed Riverside Nursery would be the main setting.

Q. Why has the original number of places been reduced from 18 to 16?

A. Feedback from families at previous consultations raised a valid concern around capacity for children whose needs may not have been fully identified and assessed by the time they are nursery age.  The change in numbers means that there are now a small number of places set aside for those children who may need them at reception age.

6. Availability of specialist healthcare and therapies

Q. What health and therapies provision will be made?

A.  Health and therapies are usually provided for a child in their educational placement and we expect this to be the case for pre-school age as well as school age children. The Local Authority and Bromley Clinical Commissioning Group (health) are currently working with the school to achieve this.

Q. If my child attends a nursery provision, can they have access to the hydrotherapy provision at the school?

A.  All children will have access to the provision that they need, which may include hydrotherapy – the school will work with each individual child to ensure their timetable includes -access to the most appropriate facilities.

7. Scheduled opening of provision

Q. Where would my pre-school age child be placed if the proposal does not go ahead?

A.  Children would continue with their current pre-school provision, including any specialist support.

Q. When will the nursery provision open?

A.  Consultation on this proposal closes on 13th February 2018 and responses are welcomed via email at school.organisation@bromley.gov.uk.  Once the consultation has closed, a report will be presented to Councillors who will make their decision.  We expect the decision to made early March 2018 and if the proposal is agreed, the provision will open from April 2018.

Q. How will the proposed nursery provision be registered and inspected?

A.  The proposed nursery provision will be part of the overall school provision and will come under the existing Ofsted registration and be inspected in the same way as the school provision.

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