A changing organisation….
It is a significant time of change for both the organisation and the local authority as September 2018 sees the implementation of the outcomes of Brighton & Hove LA’s review of Special Educational Needs & Disability (SEND) provision.
This SEND review has been substantial because it needed to rationalise special school and special facility provision across the city and to integrate health and social care support into the newly created (larger) ‘hubs’. Three ‘hubs’ have been created; two around SEND (learning difficulties, autism, complex needs) and one around Social Emotional & Mental Health needs (SEMH) from a total of 6 special schools and 2 facilities. To enable this change towards generic learning difficulty school provision, three schools are closing at the end of this academic year.
In the East of the city, Downs View School & Link College (broadly severe learning difficulties, profound & multiple learning difficulties, autistic spectrum condition) remains open and is merging with the Cedar Centre (complex needs) to form a generic school to serve half the city.
Downs View currently has three sites:
- Downs View School in Warren Road, Woodingdean. NoR 99, 2 to 16 years
- Downs View Link College in Surrenden Road. NoR 46, 16 to 19 years,
- Downs View Life Skills College Ltd in Patcham Village. NoR 15 (22 in September), 19 to 25 years.
From this September Downs View will have a fourth site, the current Cedar Centre in Hollingdean; NoR 68, 7 to 16 years, when the Cedar Centre closes to merge with Downs View.
Agreement has been reached by governors that the name of the organisation moving forward will be Downs View.
Work on the merger
Substantial activity has been underway over many months to manage the successful merging of the two schools. There is a joint governor committee formed of representatives of both schools’ governing bodies as well as Cedar Centre governor representation on Downs View’s governing body. The leadership teams of both schools are meeting regularly and we held a joint staff development day for the combined staff of both organisations on 12th April this year to look at curriculum, teaching, training, staffing and a host of related issues. A second joint staff development day is planned for 15th June.
Over the next 18-24 months or so, the existing site in Woodingdean will be refurbished and extended to enable all school age (2 to 16 age pupils) to come together onto one site and at that point the current Cedar Centre site will be vacated. Downs View in Woodingdean will become a site able to accommodate up to 155 pupils alongside maintaining the existing Downs View colleges above.
The integrated element the city wants to create means that health professionals (fundamentally therapists) will spend more time on site to enable even more effective multi-disciplinary working and training with therapists working alongside staff and especially more focused work with parents and carers. The second element is that we will be developing extended services to better support families through operating new after school, weekend and holiday clubs and support services based on site(s) and in the community. The third element is family support. Downs View has a proven track record of working with parents in a pilot project to support behaviour management at home. This will become a feature of the new ‘hubs’ where identified school staff work at home with families.
There is, therefore, significant expansion as well as change occurring. Governors, leaders and the collective staff are committed to as smooth a transition to a new organisation as possible to ensure security and continued progress for all learners.