Earlier this year, Sheffield City Council carried out a consultation on proposals to grow and develop integrated resource (IR) provision. Parents, professionals and young people were invited to give their views about the proposals by attending meetings and completing an online survey. The survey received 197 responses.
IRs are specialist units for learners with special educational needs and disabilities, which are located within mainstream schools. Sheffield currently has eight primary IRs and four secondary IRs. In addition, there are seven IRs which focus on hearing and visual impairments, but these were outside the scope of the consultation.
The proposals included changing the way secondary IRs operate. Whilst primary IRs would continue to be run by their host mainstream schools, secondary IRs would become “hubs” – located within mainstream schools, but operated and staffed by special schools.
Overall, 42% of respondents agreed with the ideas for primary IRs (32% agreed with reservations), and 46% agreed with the ideas for secondary IRs (30% agreed with reservations).
The response to specific proposals was as follows:
- To increase the overall number of primary IR places: 82% agreed, 14% agreed with some reservations
- To improve geographic spread by having one primary IR in each of Sheffield’s seven localities, and two secondary IRs in each of Sheffield’s three areas: 63% agreed, 25% agreed with some reservations
- All primary IRs to cater for a wide range of needs: 60% agreed, 26% agreed with some reservations
- Secondary IRs to specialise in either cognition and learning, or communication and interaction: 62% agreed, 21% agreed with some reservations
The local authority is now working on the next phase of this process, taking feedback from the consultation and planning a further engagement process in the autumn term. They hope to start developing new provision in time for September 2020 and 2021.