What are the reasons why Wirral Council plan to consult on closing Lyndale School?
What’s interesting is how Julia Hassall’s (Wirral Council’s Director of Children’s Services) reasons to consult on the closure of Lyndale School have changed over time.
Julia Hassall addresses the Cabinet (16th January 2014). What’s quoted below starts at 13:46.
Julia Hassall said to Cabinet, “The reasons for considering consulting on closure of the school are set out in paragraph 2.4 of the report. Closure of the school is being proposed for consideration because the viability of the school is compromised by its small size and falling roll which does contribute to a difficult financial position.”
Julia Hassall talks to the Coordinating Committee meeting of the 27th February who were reviewing the Cabinet’s decision starting at 2:05.
Julia Hassall said to the Coordinating Committee, “The report that was presented to Cabinet on the 16th January was seeking approval to consult on the closure of Lyndale School. The report set out the background saying that local authorities have a statutory duty to make sure that there are sufficient places in their area and there’s fair access to educational opportunity to promote every child’s potential.
The reasons why in the report we’re considering the closure of the school is because of the viability of the school was compromised because of its small size and falling roll which both contribute to a difficult financial position and I think as you said Chair [Cllr Steve Foulkes] earlier, this is not in any way because of the standard of care and education within the school which is good and in many aspects outstanding.”
Interview (BBC regional news) 18th March 2014
In an interview Julia Hassall said, “The quality of care and education is really good at this school but there are concerns about whether we can sustain this school going forward” (source interview (ITV regional news) 20th March 2014).
However two days later she seemingly has a complete volte-face on funding or financial reasons being the reason for consulting on closing Lyndale.
Interviewer: This is all about saving money for the Council, isn’t it?
Julia Hassall: It’s absolutely not about saving money for the Council or balancing the Council’s books.
Voiceover: Julia Hassall is Wirral Council’s Director of Children’s Services.
Julia Hassall: If, and it’s very much if Lyndale School closes, the Council does not benefit in any way.
Voiceover: The Council also say that Lyndale children would be well looked after if they had to move to another school.
Julia Hassall: Both of the other schools could care adequately for these children and educate them properly. They’ll need to make some changes and adjustments. We absolutely will not put these children in settings where their needs are not properly met.
Voiceover: A consultation on the future of Lyndale School will start next month, the Council say they are minded to shut it down. The parents will continue their campaign to keep it open.
Below is a copy of page three of a handout at the Coordinating Committee meeting on the 27th February deciding on the call in to consult on closing Lyndale School which explains
LYNDALE SPECIAL PRIMARY SCHOOL, EASTHAM
SURPLUS FORECAST FOR 2014/15
Following a further cost saving exercise (re non teaching staff costs) recently approved by the Governors, & on the basis that the Minimum Funding Guarantee is to be applied, a small surplus is now forecast for 2014/15 & the cumulative deficit at 31/3/15 is now forecast to be approx £18,000, rather than the cumulative £72,000 included in the January Report to Cabinet. Savings from this reorganisation of approx £70,000 per annum, will continue in future years.
AGREED PLACES ALLOCATION
Following the independent reviews undertaken by Eric Craven in 2012, the Governors consider that the appropriate number of places to be allocated to School (as required to be agreed with the Education Funding Agency) to be 28.
TOP UP FUNDING
As detailed in the submissions to the recent consultations, the Governors consider that the currently proposed level of Band 5 Top Up funding of £16,000 per pupil to be insufficient to fund the necessary support required by these children. (As you will be aware, the Governors response to the 2013 consultation considered that the Band 5 Top Up funding should be £27,500 per pupil to adequately cover the various & complex needs of these most vulnerable children. Please also note that the Full Time Equivalent cost of a teaching assistant currently stands at just over £21,000 per annum.)
To this end, the Governors consider it essential for an impartial assessment of the needs of each individual pupil to be undertaken, from which the appropriate level of funding should follow.
In view of the Band 5 assessed pupils’ lack of mobility and complete vulnerability, the Governors consider it essential for the children to be educated in a completely safe environment and the current proposals do NOT meet this necessary requirement. It is more cost effective to invest available capital funding in making relatively minor changes to the existing Lyndale premises rather than making significant changes to the newly rebuilt Stanley School or Elleray Park (which is already planned to expand, but purely to adequately deal with their existing pupil numbers.)
The Governors and staff have always aimed to make Lyndale a Centre of Excellence for the education of PMLD pupils and the current proposals would be detrimental both to the considerable staff expertise which has built up over the years and to the group of available supply staff who provide the necessary support ensuring the best for our children.
Ian D Harrison F C A
Vice Chair of Governors, Lyndale School
26th March 2014
So if anyone could leave a comment detailing the reason (or reasons) why Wirral Council is planning to consult on closing Lyndale School it would be appreciated!
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