Suffolk County Council are currently consulting widely and with a completely open mind about the future of specialist education provision in Suffolk.
Opposition councillors were naturally sceptical that this was cover for money-saving, but very clear and open answers to our questions from officers have reassured us that this is not a cost-cutting exercise (the money is ring-fenced) but about spending it to best advantage and with better outcomes.
At the moment, Suffolk has 256 young people sent out of county at the cost of £11m a year for educational provision that Suffolk has not been able or willing to provide in county; some of our PRUs ‘require improvement’ (one is in special measures) and are more expensive and produce worse outcomes than Norfolk’s (which are rated outstanding), and all the SSCs (specialist support centres) are located in one quadrant of the county because historically they were only sited in schools that declared themselves willing to house them. This means there is no provision in the north and west of the county and some children are making two 75-minute journeys a day to reach them.
Suffolk is is now wanting your input to find the best way to address these issues and others.
From 11 January – 7 February 2016 people have the opportunity to give your views on a range of options Suffolk are looking at, and you can also suggest other ideas for Suffolk to consider. (We have been assured that nothing has been predetermined or decided. This is genuinely a consultation )
After this, 14 March – 24 April 2016 there will be a formal consultation on the proposed changes: a 6 week formal consultation period where you can make representations to the Council – both expressions of support or objections to the proposals.
So, whether you are concerned or worried, or simply want to add your voice to the debate – please respond and add your views! They will be valued You can find the documents here