Decision on proposed closure of council-run special school clubs next week

Proposals to shut down council-run after school and holiday clubs for children with special needs are due to be decided next week.

Tuesday, 10th July 2018, 11:43 am
Updated Tuesday, 17th July 2018, 6:46 pm
Outside County Hall, East Sussex County Council, Lewes, on Tuesday 10th July a protest was held against proposed cuts to After School Clubs for children with disabilities. Pictured with protesters are Liberal Democrat County Councillors who are opposed to these proposed cuts.

Bob Standley, East Sussex County Council’s lead member for education and inclusion, is being asked by officers to approve the closure of the authority’s After School Clubs and Holiday Play Schemes (ASCHPS) at a meeting on Monday (July 16).

The council currently runs the service for children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) at six special schools in East Sussex.

They are: South Downs Community Special School, Hazel Court School and Lindfield School in Eastbourne; Torfield School and Saxon Mount School in Hastings; and Grove Park School in Crowborough.

In council reports, Cllr Standley is recommended to approve closing these services but to provide 18 months of transitional funding to assist the schools in setting up replacement schemes. If approved, the transitional funding is expected to run from September 2018 to December 2019.

The reports say this approach will allow the schools to charge fees and to seek forms of funding which the council cannot access, making the service more financially viable. Council officers also expect to see the number of pupils using the service increase as a result of the changes.

According to council reports, the special school headteachers have submitted plans indicating that they are willing to pick up responsibility for running the schemes.

The decision follows a public consultation on the proposals, which saw a total of 100 responses received from service users and supporters.

Many of the respondents raised concerns that the schools would be unable to continue running the service once the transitional funding comes to a close.

Some parents and carers also took part in protests against the proposed closures as part of the Save Our Services campaign.

Concerns were also raised about the future of the council staff who currently deliver the service.

The council currently employs 27 staff as part of the service, all of whom would be made redundant if the service closure is approved.