We have been contacted by parents asking for clarification about a proposal submitted to the Schools Forum, which aims to improve support for learners with autism by reorganising Integrated Resource provision in Sheffield (summarised on this slide). Sheffield City Council have sent us the following statement:
“Sheffield City Council have been working hard with schools, health services and others to develop a new way of working together to provide support for those in education who have special educational needs or who are disabled (SEND). At the heart of our vision is the concept that parents and children should, as far as possible, be able to access good quality education and support in their local area that meets their needs and is of the same high standard as anywhere else in the city. Our schools are already working together in seven geographical localities and we are now thinking about how the range of specialist provision that we have in Sheffield can support this new approach. We want to make sure our high quality specialist support is accessible for all those who need it in each locality, and the expertise that is available is used to promote an inclusive culture and confident use of best practice in all our early years settings, schools and colleges. It is also important that we target our finite resources in the most effective way to ensure positive outcomes for all children and young people.
As part of this, we are discussing with Head Teachers how we can make the best use of the Integrated Resource Units (IRUs) that are available in some of our schools to support locality working and ensure the growing numbers of children with Autism in the city receive the right support. These discussions are at a very early stage and no formal proposals have been put forward. Head Teachers have already raised a number of important points that we need to consider – e.g. whether IRUs should be a city-wide or a locality resource; ensuring children already in IRUs are not disadvantaged by any changes; ensuring mainstream inclusive practice is of a high standard etc. It is also the case that before we can make any significant changes to an Integrated Resource Unit, or open any new ones, we would have to carry out a formal consultation. We will continue to work with Head Teachers and parents to develop the best possible approach to using specialist provision and expertise to support children and young people with SEND in Sheffield. February’s School Forum agreed that more formal discussions about the best use of IRUs should now take place.”