Lyndale School Consultation Meeting: Funding, banding and need (part 7)
This is what happened at the last of the consultation meetings about the closure of Lyndale School and continues from Lyndale School Consultation Meeting: Kingsway, funding and hydrotherapy pools (part 6).
Julia Hassall (Director of Children’s Services) continued by saying, “Just to reinforce the point that Phil [Ward] has made, we are really clear that if a child needs a certain type of frequency of provision, then we will replicate that in a different school setting.”
The next question was, “Am I allowed to ask about funding?”
Julia Hassall and others replied, “Yes”. Phil Ward said, “Go on then.”
The person asking the question said, “Basically, we do have a big and major issue with regards to the funding with the banding. Obviously you informed us on the last meeting which we work in a way is that band five children have to hit those three things now. We’ve now been made aware that one of the main criteria that they have to be gastroscomy fed. Now a lot of our children are unable to walk, talk, do pretty much anything for themselves, have seizures, … all different types of things, you know choking, aspiration is the main one but we are able to feed them orally, so and they’re getting eight grand less than the kids. I mean can’t we like, you know, surely to God something needs to be done about this? Our kids needs that other eight grand.
I mean because basically, I mean we’re on band four because at this precise moment, us two and you know potentially Robinson as well is going to be in band four right? So our kids are all going to be in band four so we get eight grand. Now where you’ve got the autistic children in Stanley and Elleray who can walk and talk who are on the National Curriculum scale, you know and are …, what band are they because how much money are they going to have taken off them? You know their money’s going to be plummeted.”
Phil Ward said, “Right, let’s bring Andrew in on that because that’s quite a long question. Hang on a sec, let’s bring Andrew in.”
Andrew Roberts said, “I think the main answer to your question is, it goes back to what I said before. This is a new system, it’s a system that’s only started from the first of April with five bands in it. You’ve clearly got to have a means of being able to distinguish between one band and another.”
The person asking the question said, “But we’re already telling you it’s not going to work! It can’t! It’s physically impossible when you’ve got, you know children just because they’re not gastroscomy fed are getting half the amount of money!”
Another person said, “… but he had to have a gastroscomy, because he had seizures and I have to give him his medication at a set time, morning and night.
So if he’s had a seizure and he’s fast asleep after it, obviously I can’t feed him, so then I use the gastroscomy, but if he’s fit and well, I try to keep feeding him orally because I don’t want him to lose the skill of feeding. So, is he going to be in band four and a half, is he band five, is he band four?”
Phil Ward said, “Hang on, hang on.”
David Armstrong said, “I think there’s two issues that are of concern, in terms of taking that away and reflecting on it. It’s two issues. First of all there’s the banding system itself and secondly it is are your children on the right band?
In terms of the banding system, you know, I know it’s simple but it was the special schools budget. We needed to come up with a way of distributing it, we were all in agreement when it was put together on the Schools Forum, including special heads and so on. The banding system was devised, there were comments about the banding system which will also be from outside next week to look at the banding system.
The comments that you’re making back, clearly need to feed back into looking at the banding system after it’s first year of operation. The banding system is a way of taking a fixed budget, which I think is pretty fair and obviously if you adjust one band up, we’ve got to take the other bands down but in terms of are your children on the right band, clearly Andrew [Roberts]’s an accountant, like myself. We’re well away from this. We don’t allocate children to bands, that’s a separate issue.
If your children are sitting in the wrong band, which I can deduce from that, clearly you need to take that up.”
A number of people from the audience started talking at once. One of them said, “We know our children require one to one attention.”
Phil Ward tried to talk but was drowned out by numerous people. He said, “The point’s taken around the banding and the banding issue can also be discussed at every child’s annual review if that needs to be looked at because the point…” He was drowned out by a number of people again. He continued, “hang on a sec, the point at that course is not only to look at the progress the child is making or otherwise but to look at needs as well. Now there’s a lot more… “
Julia Hassall said, “Can I just add one other bit, I think it’s important to feed that in through the psychologist when the meetings are taking place as well.”
Some asked a question about banding and reviews, which was replied to by David Armstrong. Someone responded by saying that it didn’t answer the question.
The next comment made was, “You did say the national funding is the reason why you know it all changed ok? National funding had changed, but local authorities have got you know, they’ve got the ability to decide what change they want to make to funding and what the funding stream is and what those changes are.
Lots of other boroughs have funded on a school by school basis depending on the need. On Wirral they decided to do away with this system, which you know because it was easier, but it really doesn’t have very much flexibility or address the actual needs of the children involved. That could be in relation you know to decide what to do with the banding system.
When you’ve said that you know that’s an ongoing process and the Schools Forum you’ll take it back to them and they will look at it again to reassess it, but by that time in the consultation process rest assured in this exercise you know whether, by the time it’s been looked at possibly splitting band five into two to improve the funding for these children, Lyndale will already be shut. The agreed place allocation as well for Lyndale by the way is twenty-eight, so it hasn’t got fifty percent occupancy.”
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