[To approve the recommendations for a new model of residential provision at Penn Hall School.]
Steven Larking, Lead Commissioner (Children and Families) & Commissioning Leadership Support (SEN) presented the Support for City Residential Independent Living Provision and delivered a presentation prepared by Penn Hall School to support.
The presentation provided Schools’ Forum with examples of the type of provision offered, the benefits that the service users enjoyed and the positive feedback received from families using the service.
It was reported that, due to ongoing funding pressures faced by the school the residential provision it provides for its pupils is no longer viable for the school to maintain. It was acknowledged that the type of provision was still of enormous benefit to the City’s children and young people and aligned with the Local Authority’s aspirations of the to empower them to live an ordinary life.
It was recalled that a report highlighting the risks to the residential provision and the impact of its closure was presented to the Schools’ Forum High Needs Sub-Group on 7 November 2019. The paper also outlined a number of recommendations on how to maintain and develop the establishment and its offer further to include providing access to other settings across the City and the provision of a Short Breaks model to further enhance the offer.
It was suggested that the increased accessibility would be extended to three schools initially with a panel process determining and allocating provision. A service specification would be developed which would include the referrals and admissions process. It was noted there may be adaptations required to the building to increase access for all needs and improve the offer for the short breaks model, therefore changes to funding would be required.
It was reported that a Penn Hall Residential Working Group had been established to drive the project forward and develop a sustainable service model for provision.
It was noted that the costs of the residential provision to the school would amount to a total cost to deliver per year of £173,358 and it was proposed that this was taken from the High Needs Block. Additional funding could be sourced from facility hire, short breaks, parental contributions or fundraising and wraparound care provision to offset the High Needs Block commitment, and the school will report annually on how much can be returned.
1. That members of Schools’ Forum agree to commit to the use of £173,358 of the High Needs Block to fund an increased access Penn Hall Residential facility on an ongoing annual basis (noting the approach to offset some of this financial commitment and the reporting and approval process to do so).
2. That Schools’ Forum agree to an additional review of demand for City-wide residential provision and instruct Special Educational Need commissioners to begin exploring options for opening a new facility to meet this demand.
3. That members of Schools’ Forum note the new operating model for an independent living skills residential provision for eligible children and young people from three settings across Wolverhampton.
4. That members of Schools’ Forum note that a further paper on Capital implications will be presented in early 2021.