Concern Expressed Over Special Needs Panel

Headteacher of the Five Islands School, Bryce Wilby

The headteacher of the Five Islands School has expressed concern that a proposed group, overseeing areas of special educational needs, does not include a representative from the school.

The so-called Special Needs and Complex Issues Panel will make decisions relating to children who need additional educational or social support.

But at yesterday’s Children and Young People Committee meeting, Bryce Wilby, questioned why the core membership of the panel did not include a representative from the school.

The proposal is currently for three core members, all from the Council; the Commissioning, Inclusion and Performance Manager, the Children’s Social Care Manager and the Director of Children’s, Community and Adult Services.

Policy author, Keith Grossett, pointed out at the meeting that the proposal has provision for a representative of the school to be brought in on an “as-needed” basis and admitted this was likely to be done in “the vast majority of cases.”

But Bryce said, if this was the case, then it’s even more important that a school representative was included as a core member, adding that this was the norm on most mainland panels.

Scilly is unusual because it is an educational authority with only one school. Bryce said this can lead to him, as head, having to sit on many different panels, whereas on the mainland responsibility would be split between many individuals.

However, he feels that school representation on the special needs panel is essential and says the present proposal could lead to parents questioning the legitimacy of any decisions made.

Councillor Sheila Thomas asked for, and it was agreed, that any decision should be deferred, to allow committee members time to read the report, which was only provided to them during the meeting.

Bryce told us he hopes the policy will be revised before the next meeting.