Consultation launched on proposed Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) provision in Thanet

Consultation for special educational needs and disabilities provision in Thanet

A consultation is launching today, seeking residents’ views on proposals for additional provision for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) in Thanet and a change of use of the Garlinge Children’s Centre building.

Kent County Council is proposing providing a 16-place Specialist Resource Provision (SRP) for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) as part of Garlinge Primary School and Nursery. The SRP would be based in the building that has been used part-time by Garlinge Children’s Centre with children’s centre services to be offered to members of the Garlinge community through Birchington and Six Bells Children’s Centres instead, including outreach services for those families that require them.

The Garlinge Children’s Centre building would be extended to provide classrooms, a care suite, intervention space and office space for the SRP.

The consultation runs from today (Wednesday, September 29) until Thursday, November 25 and can be filled in online or via a paper form that can be picked up from the school reception.

Sue Chandler, Kent County Council’s Cabinet Member for Integrated Children’s Services, said: “It is imperative that every child and young person in Kent has access to a school place that is appropriate for their needs and that will allow them to thrive, develop and succeed. There is a real need in Thanet for Specialist Resource Provision (SRP) for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), which is why we are putting forward this proposal.

“Kent County Council made a commitment to work closely with children and young people with SEND, and their families, and to put them at the heart of everything we do so we really value their views on this proposal. We are also keen to hear from other members of the community, particularly those who have previously benefited from children’s centre services in Thanet, as we want to make sure this is a proposal that works for everyone.”

As of January 2021, a total of 15,281 children and young people living with with SEND in Kent had an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP); 1,798 of whom (11%) live in Thanet.

The number of Thanet children with an EHCP has increased by 12.3% since last year and additional provision is needed in the district.

ASD is the most common special education need type in Kent with 42.7% of all EHCPs (0-25) having ASD as the primary need. In Thanet 50% of all EHCPs for primary aged school pupils have ASD named as their primary need in their EHCP.

Some children with an EHCP require a higher level of support than a mainstream school can provide but their needs are not so complex that a special school is appropriate for them. For these children, KCC says a SRP based in a mainstream school is the best way to ensure they receive the education they require.  However, Thanet does not currently have SRPs in any of its primary schools, the nearest ones are in Canterbury and Whitstable.

A number of children’s centres, including Garlinge and Birchington, have been closed during the COVID-19 pandemic with services being delivered from key centres within each district. There are currently 46 Children’s Centres open and KCC is undertaking a phased reopening of the remaining ones throughout autumn and winter.

It is proposed that the early years, health (health visiting and midwifery) and parenting services previously delivered from Garlinge Children’s Centre would be transferred to the current part-time Birchington Children’s Centre, which would have its opening hours extended to full-time.

The network of Thanet Children’s Centres work closely together offering outreach support across Thanet.

Further outreach services will be developed for the Garlinge catchment area based on local community needs. This will include some delivery of services from Garlinge Primary School.

KCC says the proposed changes will not affect the level of outreach support provided to families living within the catchment area of Garlinge Children’s Centre.

KCC is also proposing opening a second SRP for pupils with ASD at St John’s Primary School in Margate. The SRP is being established in a building which was previously the school’s nursery and is currently used for SEN interventions.

There will be an extension to the building and some internal reconfiguration undertaken to provide the spaces for the SRP while maintaining intervention capacity for the school. It is expected that the SRP will open in January 2022.

Take part in the consultation

Residents can fill out the consultation at www.kent.gov.uk/garlingeconsultation; pick up a paper questionnaire from Garlinge Primary School reception, Westfield Road, during school opening hours throughout the duration of the consultation period; or attend a Question and Answer sessions, which will be held at Garlinge Primary School on Tuesday,  October 19 from 4pm to 6pm and on Wednesday, November 3 from 5pm to 7pm.

Contact Sally Heyes on sally.heyes@kent.gov.uk or call on 03000 412559 to book a slot. Questions and queries can be emailed to EKAreaEducation@kent.gov.uk or posed by phoning 03000 418794.

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