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(UK) Suffolk: Autism school rated 'inadequate' despite $1.3M budget

Dec 4, 2021, East Anglian Daily Times: We won't send children to troubled school yet, says council, despite praise

E England

Autistic children will not be sent to a troubled school until it does more to clean up its act — despite inspectors praising it. Suffolk County Council suspended new placements at Acorn Park School (APS), in Banham, south Norfolk, in early 2020 when it received an "inadequate" rating from Ofsted. At the time inspectors slammed the leadership for its lack of direction and weak curriculum, as well as hiring staff who "lacked basic skills".... "Constant changes have left my son feeling confused and avoidant, when he's in school," he said. "And then two weeks ago I was told the school would be sending me a 28-day notice to revoke Zach's placement entirely because they apparently can't meet his needs. … Norfolk's cabinet member for children's services, John Fisher, said the council was working to find another long-term school place suitable for Zach's needs. … APS currently provides specialist care for 90 pupils, who arrive via placement by the local authority. In 2020 the school was downgraded from “good” to “inadequate”. Earlier this year, SEND expert Janet Willicott presented a report to APS outlining the testimonies of 13 parents who were furious with how management had treated their children.... But despite widespread criticism of APS in recent years, both Norfolk and Suffolk county councils have spent millions of pounds on placements. More than £1m [$1.3M] of money is paid to the school each year by Norfolk County Council, while a Freedom of Information request revealed that between 2015-2020, Suffolk County Council spent £5,713,041 [$7.6M] on 88 pupil placements.


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