Please see below our responses to questions that were raised during the consultation meetings:
Q: What experience of such a proposal do you have from other schools and how will such a big change in year difference and co-ed in the new provision will be managed?
A: There are 15 schools in the Trust. There is a lot of learning we can draw on where we have expanded other schools as well as from the development of new Free Schools. Some of the other schools in the Trust have children from nursery age to post 16. While they are ‘through’ schools, the provision is delineated so that the age groups are appropriately separate and yet there is still a sense of being a part of one school. Feedback so far has been welcoming of a co-ed mix for the proposed secondary at Brantridge.
Q: Where on the premises will the new building be sited and how will the impact and disruption of a building project be managed?
A: The proposed site is a very large area of unused land behind Home Lodge. As the area is at a bit of a distance from the main building, disruption can be kept at a minimum which is important for children with sensory needs.
Q: How will the drop off and pick be managed with more people and cars on site?
A: There are 2 options being considered. Firstly, a slightly staggered school day for primary and secondary. Secondly, a separate entrance to the new building which is located conveniently near to the road.
Q: What will the curriculum offer be like, will it include NVQs as well as GCSE subjects?
A: Yes, there will be both academic and vocational pathways and a blended pathway according to the needs of the individual child.
Q: Do you know how likely it is that the Department for Education (DfE) will approve the proposal?
A: Based on our experience we know that it’s important to show the DfE that we have the approval of the local authority, which we do. They have provided a letter of endorsement as their projections show that there is demand to justify future places including for girls. We also need to have the funding for the building, which the local authority has. We need the land, which we have. We need to show that we have parental support, which so far we have.
Q: When will the DfE make their decision?
A: We understand it’s really important to get that as soon as possible. Parents of current year 6 children are looking at transition to secondary now. The consultation closes on 29th November and we expect a decision sometime in mid-December.
Q: Will parents of existing children need to ‘apply’ for a place in the secondary provision?
A: No, it will be a through school so there will be no need for existing pupils to apply for a place. Parents do of course have the option to consider other secondary provisions if they wish.
Q: Are you confident that planning permission for the new building will be granted given the local authority is endorsing the proposal?
A: The new building will need to meet all the usual requirements of planning. The capital team at West Sussex will complete the design once we have approval from DfE and then proceed with the planning application. The freeholder of the land which is leased to the school, has been consulted on the proposal. There are benefits to the local authority in keeping provision within the County, but we don’t know at this point if there will be any barriers to obtaining planning permission.
Q: Are you anticipating any problems in growing staffing in line with the growth of provision?
A: Unlike some schools in the area we always have applicants for the teaching roles. It is always challenging, but we are confident we will overcome any recruitment issues. There does seem to be a national issue with recruiting therapists.
Q: How many new staff will you need for year 7?
A: We will operate with the same ratios that we have now so for a class of 8 pupils there is one teacher, one teaching assistant. There may be others where we have a pupil with 1:1 support. As provision grows, we will need more admin and other kinds of staff necessary to support a larger infrastructure.
Q:Will there be subject specialist teachers for GCSE subjects?
A: For year 7, 8 and possibly year 9 we will run on the same model we have in primary, which is a class teacher that delivers a range of subjects. For Year 9, 10 & 11 when GCSEs are being taught we will have more subject specialist teachers. We will continue to be pupil-led in our approach and deliver what is best for them.
Q: Are there designs for the new building yet?
A:No a design will be drawn up once we have DfE approval.
Q: Will it be a phased opening to secondary, as in the current Year 6 will always be the oldest in the school and the other years follow up or will you take in a new lot of children to fill the years 8-11
A: The school, will grow incrementally so the current Year 6 will always be the oldest in the school
Q: Will we be able to put Brantridge down on our parental choice for transition to secondary schools?
Q: Are children currently attending Brantridge guaranteed a place in secondary or do we need to apply?
A: No, it will be a through school so there will be no need for existing pupils to apply for a place. Parents do of course have the option to consider other secondary provision if they wish.