STATEMENT FROM THE BOARD
17 June 2019
STATEMENT FROM THE BOARD
Since 2012 Northern House School Academy Trust has worked tirelessly to improve the outcomes for some of the nation’s most disadvantaged pupils. The Academy Trust has, with the support of our sponsor school, Northern House School (Oxford), overseen the transformation of Northern House School (Solihull) (since 2014), Northern House School (City of Wolverhampton) (since 2016), Northern House School (PRU) (since 2016) and Northern House School (Wokingham) (since 2017). All of these schools, prior to sponsored conversion, were in crisis, with some having experienced extensive periods of closure and regular police presence – time, care and investment were key.
However, you will be aware from media comment of the funding crisis in special needs schools.
As an Academy Trust we have historically been able to maintain healthy cash reserves. However, over a year ago we highlighted concerns in relation to funding directly to the Department for Education and have also been engaging with local authorities.
These discussions have not identified any likelihood of change in the short term to a flawed funding system that delivers an inadequate and unreliable, often volatile, funding stream which is unworkable within a SEN Trust that is dedicated to SEMH pupils.
Despite the special challenges within our school settings, pupil outcomes are benchmarked against mainstream schools. Therefore, to deliver the pupil outcomes that our children deserve, the Academy Trust has to invest continually in its staff and infrastructure to deliver not only the academic results expected but also the necessary social outcomes to prepare our pupils for adult life – this is possible only with adequate funding.
At a meeting of the Board of Trustees on Friday 14 June 2019, it was decided to begin discussions with the DfE to re-broker all our schools. We have informed the relevant LAs with whom we continue to work; we do not expect their own pressures and priorities in relation to the High Needs Funding Block to permit any resolution to reduce the funding crisis.
This means that the DfE will seek appropriate alternative Trusts, or a single Trust, for our schools and that this process is likely to begin immediately. As each of our schools finds a new ‘home’, Northern House School Academy Trust will step aside.
The Board’s decision has not been taken lightly. Our pupils, most of whom have detailed Education, Health and Care Plans, rightly have a wide range of entitlements. At some point in the foreseeable future, the funding model puts at risk our capacity to deliver these entitlements and secure continuous improvement in pupil outcomes.
On behalf of the pupils and families we serve, we thank all our staff for their continuing commitment and dedication to help some of the most vulnerable young people in our society.
Parents and carers should also be reassured that we will continue to provide an effective education in a safe environment until such time as we pass on the baton.
We will keep you informed of developments.
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William Powlett Smith
Chair, Northern House School Academy Trust