Brompton Hall online consultation 2: 14 July 2022
North Yorkshire County Council Attendees: Chris Reynolds, Jane Le Sage, Wendy Butterfield
Attendees: Two parents (A and B)
Chris Reynolds opens the meeting and welcomes attendees, proceeds to give presentation.
During the presentation Chris Reynolds asks for questions from audience.
Parent A: Asked, if 24 per cent agreed with the proposal then did 76 per cent disagree?
Chris Reynolds: Explained that some answered ‘neither’, but we could get them the figures if required.
Parent A: Asked, if there is a decline in the need for residential, when did the advertising of residential stop?
Chris Reynolds: Explained that the advertising of residential has not stopped, it is still in place is needed. It is still available at Welburn Hall or out of county. This is linked to supporting the strategy which states that we aim to keep children in the home with their family.
Parent B: Asked, if residential is not needed then why open up 12 places at Welburn Hall and why co-educational?
Chris Reynolds: Explained that Welburn Hall is not a social, emotional and mental health provision, they have a very different cohort (Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties/Severe Learning Difficulties). Some children with the same needs as those at Welburn Hall were placed out of county, so this model was changed for the more complex pupils.
Parent A: Asked, which Multi Academy Trust are involved?
Chris Reynolds: Explained that VENN are completing due diligence.
Parent B: Asked, if it becomes an academy would they keep the residential option?
Chris Reynolds: Explained that, no the residential provision would still end in two years if this proposal went through. But he had been talking to the Trust about increasing day and extended day places and the Trust were on board with this.
Parent B: Asked, will this lead to increased class sizes?
Chris Reynolds: Explained that they will follow the usual special school guidance for staff/pupil ratios. There will be an increase in funding as the number of pupils increases. VENN already have other special schools in the multi academy trust so are aware of this. It is not a move to create a mainstream school.
Parent B: Asked about the current staffing ratios?
Chris Reynolds: Said 8:2 or 10:2.
Parent B: Stated that class sizes could double, if this happens will any support be put in?
Chris Reynolds: Explained that VENN are already offering support to the leadership team. This would happen over time, there would not be a sudden change. VENN would transition to the new model.
Parent A: Asked about VENN’s experience with special schools?
Chris Reynolds: Explained that the Trust is a mixture of mainstream, special schools and alternative provisions. But this is their first school in North Yorkshire.
Parent A: Asked, if their child was offered a day place instead of residential, would they be given transport?
Chris Reynolds: Stated that he was aware that B had already spoken to Nicola Mahon about this. She is aware that their first choice is Brompton Hall residential and their second choice would be a day place.
Parent B: Stated that they are considered moving closer to Brompton Hall to allow him to access a day place. She does not want him to move again as he has already had lots of change of schools.
Chris Reynolds: Explained that we have guidance around travel time (75 minutes). Transport would be provided, Nicola Mahon would be able to provide more details. He shared that we do have some pupils who travel long distances.
Parent A: Stated that they want to maintain routine and structure for their child.
Chris Reynolds: Explained that Nicola Mahon can support them to look at options before any possible changes to prevent disrupting the placement.
Parent B: Asked if that would also be offered to the other two boys?
Chris Reynolds: Stated that we can’t discuss other pupils but we would have the same conversation with all families.
Parent A: Asked if the Ofsted report had an impact on the proposal
Chris Reynolds: Explained that it did not hugely impact on it, but it was mentioned as the school needs to improve, but it was not a big part of the decision. The decision was made more around viability. We could either stand back and watch the reduction or do something planned to support. There is also a waiting list for day and extended day places.
Parent A: Stated that she thought school standards had declined.
Jane Le Sage: Stated that the previous Ofsted rating had been good.
Parent A: Asked what the reason for the decline was? Shared that he was on an Ofsted parent panel.
Parent B: Shared that she thought the school had gone downhill since the head teacher left and the temporary head teacher was in place. She questioned whether this was a coincidence.
Jane Le Sage: Stated that there has been internal monitoring and the school had been in decline.
Parent B: Shared that she had discussed her concerns with Stuart Charlton and Rishi Sunak, she felt that staff had not had their views heard. She stated that she had spoken to staff herself and some had said they had not had a chance to respond, due to commitments.
Chris Reynolds: Explained that during the first consultation he went into school on a date and at a time to suit school. The school had chosen a Friday afternoon once the pupils had left so all staff were free. He had done two 45-minute sessions and shared that there was not as many staff in attendance as expected, but he was aware of some staff stood outside of the room. The session was also streamed on Teams for those not in school and additional sessions were offered. He also explained that the engagement events and online survey were open to everyone, so they had more than sufficient opportunity to respond. The offer of the additional session was not taken up.
Parent B: Stated that she felt that the staff still have issues that have not been heard as they had told her on Monday night.
Parent A: Agreed that it appeared that a good level of opportunities had been given.
Parent B: Asked if we had spoken to the pupils?
Chris Reynolds: Explained that this needs to be carefully done not to raise anxiety as it is a consultation. Staff in school are best placed to have these conversations as they know the pupils best. Additional support was offered to staff as they don’t want to confuse the pupils with everything else that is happening (Ofsted/new Head Teacher).
Parent B: Shared that the pupils know about it anyway as it is in the local press/social media so asked if pupil feedback would be considered?
Chris Reynolds: Explained that, yes, all feedback goes forward for consideration.
Chris Reynolds: Completed the presentation and shared the feedback route, he explained that notes had been taken and individual pupil concerns would be considered through Nicola Mahon and their team. He asked if there were any further points?
Parent A: No, but he will be finding out more information about VENN.
Parent B: No. Then asked if the local authority had any involvement in identifying the Trust.
Chris Reynolds: Explained that the Regional Schools Commission identify the Trust.
Parent A: Asked how this process works?
Chris Reynolds: Explained that Trusts apply to the Regional Schools Commission and they then choose. The local authority only have informal input into this.
No further comments.
Chris Reynolds closed the meeting.