September 2011 saw the launch of a two-year pilot aimed at developing inclusive practice in Sheffield’s mainstream schools.
The project will provide extra support and funding (approx. £1m per year) to linked clusters or “families” of schools. Each family consists of a secondary school and its feeder primary schools and nurseries. The families of schools taking part in the pilot are: Birley, Fir Vale, Hinde House, Newfield, Parkwood Academy, Silverdale, Stocksbridge, and Westfield (53 schools in total).
Schools in each family have worked together to agree a list of pupils with the most exceptional needs. These are not necessarily pupils with statements of SEN, but those youngsters with exceptional needs who are most at risk of being excluded or moving into specialist provision. A total of 240 pupils have been identified. Parental confidence is key to the success of the pilot, and schools are encouraged to include parents in their discussions about how to support their child within the context of the pilot. Participating schools will continue to have access to specialist support services and can seek outreach support from special schools and Integrated Resources (IRs). In addition, two temporary Assistant Educational Psychologist posts have been established to support the schools in the pilot.
The success of the project will be measured using the following criteria: parental confidence (as reflected in feedback from parents, no increase in demand for statements of SEN or appeals to the SEND tribunal), views of children and young people, progress and good school attendance, and more children being successfully included in local mainstream schools. The pilot will be independently evaluated and if evidence of success is clearly demonstrated, the approach will be developed more widely across the city.