Fort Royal Govenors Urge WCC to Urgently Address the SEND Placement Crisis in Worcestershire

As a stakeholder in Worcestershire’s education provision for SEND Children aged 0-25, Families in Partnership (FiP) had the privilege of being copied into an extremely significant letter sent by the Chair of Governors at Fort Royal Community Primary school to Councillor Tracey Onslow, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Education at Worcestershire County Council.

The letter dated 11th March 2024 articulates the critical need for new specialist provision for learners with complex needs living in Worcestershire and is accompanied by supporting evidence titled “Projection Forecast of Pupils with Complex Needs who will Not Find a Place at Fort Royal School.”

The letter describes a “burgeoning” and “stark capacity crisis” created by a county shortage of specialist placements, but most recently compounded by Fort Royal’s reduction in class sizes – a move designed to support the school pupils’ increasing needs and supported by a WCF report.

The letter, copied in to all local councillors and MPs, calls on Counsellor Onslow to undertake “immediate strategic planning”, “a re-evaluation of county spending priorities” with both backed by “serious upfront investment.”

It also reminds all the recipients, that the Department for Education continues to monitor “WCC’s lack of suitable specialist provision to meet the identified needs of children and young people” and the “The development of your capital plans to strengthen the range of specialist provision to meet the identified needs of children and young people” – an issue first highlighted in November 2023.

The letter alludes to a forthcoming sufficiency place planning report and urges the matter to be discussed at the next Worcestershire County Council Cabinet meeting on 28th March 2024.

FiP are aware of dozens of families that are currently affected by the lack of specialist placements and who are experiencing many of the “dire consequences”, including “increased pupil and parent distress, missed educational opportunities and adverse life outcomes for some of our most vulnerable citizens.”

As the parent carer forum representing the needs and experiences of Worcestershire’s children aged 0-25 with SEND, FiP fully and whole heartedly support the strong and imperative message sent to local political leaders by the governors at Fort Royal.

We also urge Worcestershire County Council to immediately commence investment in long term, high-quality specialist provision for a spectrum of high-priority SEND needs, for Worcestershire’s learners of today and of the future.

Furthermore, FiP members also look forward to hearing Councillor Onslow’s response to all the points raised by Fort Royal’s Governors.