We are rightly proud of our school. Our committed, knowledgeable and hard-working staff ensure a high quality provision for all of our amazing pupils and students. However, as a forward facing team, we are keenly aware that we can still do better. Our vision is to become a centre of excellence, where our knowledge and expertise of complex learning is recognised county and countrywide. It is only through enabling our staff to become experts through training, research and applied practice that we can reach this goal.
As you are all no doubt aware, schools are allocated 5 days per year for inset days. These days provide an opportunity for all school staff to undertake core and statutory training as well as catch up with new developments in education.
Special schools routinely struggle with the amount of training they are required to deliver. This is an issue currently being addressed across the country with many special schools trying to identify ways that they can increase training opportunities for staff. Essentially, we are not alone in seeking a solution, this is a nationally recognised issue.
At schools like Foreland Fields School, statutory training such as safeguarding, behaviour, prevent, GDPR, etc. uses up much of our 5-day allocation. However, we are also required to deliver training relevant to the health, therapy and communication needs of our pupils, including epilepsy management, eating and drinking, administration of medication, moving and handling, tracheostomy care/training, Deaf awareness, Makaton Sign Language, British Sign Language, etc. In addition, you will notice the training listed above, which is by no means exhaustive, does not include anything related to curriculum development, teaching or learning which is obviously vital, being a school.
In addition to the above we are currently in the process of introducing new curriculum pathways, which will deliver a curriculum which meets the needs of students of all abilities, across all age groups. In order to ensure all staff are familiar with this new initiative, and that the school delivers a gold-standard education, they need to have received training and instruction in this new approach to curriculum delivery, monitoring and assessment.
Over a year ago we completed an analysis of our training needs versus time allocated and found that in order to train the staff team to the levels required we would need 10-12 working days, where we are currently allocated only 5. Following this analysis, we have attempted to identify other ways of delivering this training. This has included online courses and training delivered during the school day. Whilst these options remain part of a solution, they do not even closely address the needs that must be met. For example, due to the complex needs of our pupils, withdrawing staff from classes has a massive impact on the quality of the teaching and learning provision. For this reason, we limit the amount of training that occurs during the school day.
Consideration has also been given to extending staff hours for additional training. However, given the extensive additional cost of this proposal, with an education team of 100+, this was not seen to be financially viable.
In order to continue to deliver the required training and ensure opportunities for staff to meet to discuss pupils, provision and development, we would like to propose that Foreland Fields School closes at 1.45pm on Thursday afternoons from September 2020. This, when added to our current training sessions, will provide the school with dedicated staff training/development opportunities, and would ensure we could deliver all statutory, medical, therapeutic and education related training across the 5 allocated days and additional weekly training sessions.
We would use this additional time to increase the number of experts we have in the school team, in a number of vital areas related to: communication, cognition, health and wellbeing and physical development.
The needs of our pupils are so complex, and the training requirements are so wide, that if we are to be successful in our journey to becoming a centre of excellence then additional training time is essential.
This consultation will include discussions with KCC and local transport providers.
The consultation period will run from January 10th 2020 until February 14th 2020 inclusive.
As parents and stakeholders, we welcome your views. To share these with us, please contact our Chair of Governors by letter:
Steve Pamphilon – Chair of Governors
Foreland Fields School
Alternatively you can contact the Chair of Governors by email through the Clerk to Governors: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please ensure all responses are received by the end of the day on 14th February 2020.
We are sure you will support us in this move to becoming a centre of excellence.
Adrian Mount Stave Pamphilon
Headteacher Chair of Governors