Meadowfield

Consultation Update

Many thanks to all who have returned a completed Consultation Response Form regarding 1:00pm pupil dismissal on Fridays from September 2019.

 

We have had a range of responses and comments from parents and carers who support the proposal including:

®    I understand fully why you want to close early on a Friday.  I would prefer that everyone gets their training that they need.

®    I do think it would benefit the students.

®    I think this is a fantastic idea.

®    Any extra time to evaluate the week to plan and prepare for the next would be wise and time used extremely well.  Would also enable staff learning to develop.

®    I think it’s a great idea and in the best interest of both pupils and staff.

®    . . . we believe that this would be beneficial to both staff and students.  We believe the training that you have listed is essential for the health and well-being of the students when they are at school.  It would give parents an opportunity to also utilise this bit of time and book appointments such as dentist, etc. during this time without their child having to miss lessons.  It would also give parents an opportunity to get away earlier for a weekend at times.

®    I think it is a win-win for everyone – especially for travelling in traffic.  It will mean less staff disruption for training which is great for our kids.  Parents and pupils will have quality time together and socialising with other pupils.

®    I understand that staff need extra training with regard to pupil’s needs and functions.  This I feel would be a great asset to all involved.

®    I think this is a good idea to try because then all staff, old and new, can all have the opportunity to learn new skills at the same time and all at the same pace so all staff are up to date together – so yes, I think this is a good chance and opportunity for all.

®    Can only see this as a positive if it means being able to use these few hours for extra or essential training for staff to be able to support and care for our children – then it’s a yes from me.

®    I am in total agreement if it means teachers and staff get extra training in valuable areas.

®    This is a great idea as it gives the children a long weekend and to avoid the Friday afternoon traffic.

®    Seems a brilliant idea – takes the pressure off of a full day Friday so happy children and importantly gives the staff extra time they need to carry out necessary training and keep up to date with paperwork so I am very much in favour with this proposal!

®    I agree with the proposals to change the school finish time from 1:00 p.m. on Fridays.  This will ensure that staff will have more time with their training, teacher planning and preparation and induction.  This will benefit both staff and pupils at Meadowfield.

®    . . . I would like to AGREE with the proposals to change the school finish time on a Friday.  I know as a school you will be putting the best needs of the children first and any extra opportunity for training is always a big plus.  On a personal note, my child does struggle in the afternoons, so it would be very beneficial to my child.

®    Completely up for this – anything that benefits staff training and our children is a win-win situation in my eyes.

®    If this means that the staff can continue to give the same fantastic level of support and education to all of the pupils and more – then it can only be a positive thing.

®    I believe this is a good proposal benefiting both staff and pupils.  In particular, I see this as a great opportunity to spend more time with my child accessing activities in the community at a less busy time and also lengthening our weekend by a couple of hours.

 

In addition to the supportive comments, parents and carers also raised questions and concerns.  Objections had common themes which include:

 

Entitlement to education:

®    My child will be missing out on valuable education.  Training should not take away from education.

®    Every other school, even special schools, manage their training without losing half a day each week.

®    What will happen to PE enrichment?

®    I have to question the quality of education that will be achieved on a half day – I don’t see how that is going to be productive especially if there are problems during class.  There is no time for catch up.

 

Difficulties for working parents:

®    It is really inconvenient for working parents and people that live far away and have children in different schools.

®    Special needs child minders are extremely hard to find.

®    It will impact families that employ staff as PAs after school.

®    As a working parent this is not something I agree with.  I already work full time and have a flexible working request with my employer.  It would not be possible for me to collect my son from school at 1p.m. every Friday.

 

Challenges for the pupils:

®    This will be a huge change in routine for many children.

®    It is a huge change in routine for many children who struggle with that and have certain times for feeds, medication, etc.

®    Our children’s lives are already limited, so why reduce their school hours to less than what all other children get?

®    Our children need all the help they can get.

 

Concerns for transport companies:

®    Messes up transport companies.

®    Have transport companies been notified?  Our driver and escort know nothing about the proposal.

®    Transport companies may need to change which would cause anxiety for my child.

®    Our child is happy and settled with his routine – a change to his transport arrangements would be disruptive for him

 

Length of time of notice:

®    September is only 3 months away and this is not a long enough period of notice for such a change.

®    I do feel that the consultation has been rushed, as I mentioned earlier, this is rather late in the year to make such a big decision and does not provide opportunities for greater discussion and better solutions.  I do feel there are questions that need to be answered before a decision can be adequately reached.

 

Parents and carers have raised several questions which I address below:

 

Question

Response

The consultation note states, ‘We have carefully checked the number of school hours every child is entitled to.  Pupils will still receive the required number of school hours with the earlier Friday dismissal’. 

 

Can you please provide details of this assessment, including the number of hours and sessions children will receive per week?

Please see attached document

Can you confirm whether this change would replace or be in addition to the existing number of staff training days normally taken?

This change would be in addition to staff development days.

Have KCC transport been consulted?

Yes – a KCC Transport Manager has liaised with all operators and all but one could accommodate the change.  KCC is considering alternatives to compensate for the one provider who cannot accommodate the 1:00pm Friday dismissal time should the proposal move forward.

Is this a cost cutting exercise?

Staff would be in school on Friday afternoons, so no, there will not be a financial benefit to the school.

Is this happening on Fridays only?

Yes, the proposal is only for Fridays

 from September.

 

Parents have also asked if different approaches to include time for training, etc. have been considered.  We have looked at a range of options, and the early release is the best way to meet the training needs of all staff over the entire academic year.

 

Parents have also enquired about the link with attendance expectations.  As you are aware, we have been focusing on improving the whole school attendance, especially following an inspection by our Independent School Adviser who confirmed that ‘the national requirement is for special provision schools to achieve the same level of attendance, 96% as mainstream schools’.

 

Attendance at school, every day the school is open, is a legal requirement and there are only a few legal reasons for a pupil’s absence:

 

  • Pupil is too ill to attend, once a pupil’s attendance falls below 90% medical evidence is required to support the illness and demonstrate that the pupil is too ill to attend
  • Pupil has a medical appointment which cannot be arranged outside school hours
  • Exceptional circumstances with prior agreement from the Principal

 

The pupils would still follow an active curriculum on Fridays and any pupil who regularly missed Friday would be referred to the KCC School Liaison Officer and potentially a Penalty Notice could be issued.

 

In addition, parents have asked how other special schools cope with staff training needs.  There are other Kent Special School who have early release days.  Difficulty with meeting staff training needs is an important topic that is being discussed by KSENT Headteachers, many of whom are finding it impossible to find the time to ensure all staff have adequate training to support our children with increasing complex needs  in our growing schools.

 

One more week until close of Consultation and your views are important to us.  If you have not completed a Consultation Response Form, copies are available from the school office or can be downloaded from the website.

 

Yours faithfully

Jill Palmer

Principal

 

Change of school day times

 

Minimum weekly teaching time as per DfEE Circular 7/90 (still the current guidance)

 

Age 5-7 21 hours

Age 8-11 – 23.5 hours

Age 12-16 24 hours

 

The following calculations work to all adult supported time being teaching time, therefore included the eating of lunch and the only non-teaching times being playtime and end of the day transition to bus rooms.

 

Age 5-7

Start of day = 9am

End of day = 3.15pm

Total hours  = 6hr 15min per day

 

Non teaching times

30 mins play time (2x 15 mins break am & pm)

30 mins midday playtime

15 mins end of day transition

Total 1hr 15 mins

 

Total teaching time = 5hrs per day/25 hrs per week

To finish early on Friday at 1pm  = 23.15  hrs per week

 

Age 8-11

Start of day = 9am

End of day = 3.15pm

Total hours  = 6hr 15min per day

 

Non teaching times

15 mins break am

30 mins midday playtime

15 mins end of day transition

Total 1hr

 

Total teaching time  = 5hrs 15 mins per day/ 26hrs 15mins

To finish early on Friday at 1pm  = 24.15  hrs per week

 

Age 12-16 and 16-19

Start of day = 9am

End of day = 3.15pm

Total hours  = 6hr 15min per day

 

Non teaching times

15 mins break am

30 mins midday break

15 mins end of day transition

Total 1hr

 

Total teaching time  - 5hrs 15mins per day / 26hrs per week

To finish early on Friday at 1pm  = 24.15  hrs per week

 

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