Headteacher condemns Redbridge Council's plans to cut Ilford school's disabled provision after 30 years
PUBLISHED: 12:00 09 January 2020
An Ilford school which has been a designated site for disabled children for the past 30 years has spoken out against the council's proposals to remove its specialist provision.
Jane Waters, the executive headteacher at Seven Kings School, in Ley Street, is urging parents to object to the proposals to remove its physically disabled provision from September this year.
"Seven Kings has been the designated school for physically disabled students in the borough and beyond for more than 30 years and inevitably over time we have developed an expertise and inclusive ethos which we believe has ensured our young people get the very best opportunities to become successful and fulfilled adults and in turn this has made Seven Kings the outstanding school it is today," she said.
Redbridge Council launched a consultation on the plans on December 2 and its closes on January 17.
The school currently has 15 full-time places for children with physically disabilities.
Nine of the students are out of catchment, two are out of borough and three are in the catchment, the council said.
The proposals to end the provision at the school are in response to a "changing pattern of demand", prompting the council to reconsider how it caters for the needs of special needs students.
The council said it would phase out the specialist provision at Seven Kings School, as demand for the facility has reduced, and increase provision elsewhere in the borough.
"The council has engaged with six secondary schools and has agreed a package of investment to make adaptations at each school, to make them accessible for pupils with physical disabilities," the consultation document says.
But Ms Waters said the provision should stay at Seven Kings School.
"Our teachers have over time developed practices which are centred on the individual, this personalisation is largely due to the breadth of needs we have in Seven Kings," she said.
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"We have never had a unit as our students are in class, in the corridors and restaurant as they should be in our community and in society in general.
"We have created a community that is at its best, inclusive, harmonious.
"Schools in the borough and beyond are supportive and relieved to know there is a school that can care for and challenge our young people beyond their expectations, as the specialist physical disability provision at Seven Kings has been instrumental in promoting inclusivity and achievement for young people with physical disabilities in Redbridge."
The council emphasised that the move to end the provision at the school is part of a wider project to create new places at other mainstream schools in the borough.
A spokesman for Redbridge Council said: "We are currently consulting on proposals to change the number of physical disability provision places that are currently commissioned at Seven Kings School.
"The overall demand for places for pupils with physical disability needs is falling significantly across the borough.
"Improvements to accessibility in other schools across the borough is also giving families an increased range of choices, when accessing mainstream secondary schools.
"The proposal will still allow students with physical disability needs to receive an education at Seven Kings School.
"Under the proposals, the council would no longer commission places which are not taken up.
"No decision has been taken at this stage and the proposals remain open for consultation until Friday, January 17."
If the plans are approved, admissions will end on August 31, 2020.
The consultation document states that all students currently registered at the school will continue until they leave, but no further students will be admitted.