A SCHOOL specialising in teaching those with social interaction and communication needs is proposing to remove its provision for post-16 education after its capacity has been stretched to its maximum.

A consultation is now in progress, but the proposal has already been met with considerable backlash from parents, who worry that the move will negatively impact their children’s education and social development.

Glendinning is a Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) School situated in Newton Abbot. It opened in September 2020 and has grown over the last three years to provide places for up to 120 pupils. As the pupils have progressed together as a cohort, there is not currently anyone above the age of 16 at the school.

When the school opened, it was initially planned that by September 2024 there would be ‘the offer of a small number of year 12 places providing post-16 education.’

However, Wave Multi Academy Trust, which runs Glendinning, states that ‘since opening, there has been a significant demand for primary and secondary phase places and there are places available at post-16 colleges and other provisions within the area.’

With many children being brought into the younger years through a tribunal or other means, Glendinning is now reaching their Pupil Admission Number, or PAN, of 120 students. By September, Wave Multi Academy Trust says that they will be operating at over capacity.

A spokesperson said: ‘We believe the range of needs presented by the pupils at Glendinning means that their KS5 education requires a broad subject offer and this breadth would not be provided at Glendinning Academy, in terms of both capacity and funding.’

Many children have been brought into the school in lower year groups through a SEND tribunal, an independent national tribunal which hears parents’ and young people’s appeals in relation to learning assistance and can legally compel a school to take on pupils. But with Glendinning already nearing capacity, this is posing an issue for other year groups.

This experience follows the national trend of insufficient funding around SEND schools, with capacity issues across Devon and the UK more widely.

Parents at the school are concerned that the axing of post-16 education will severely impact their children.

Speaking to the Mid-Devon Advertiser, one parent said: ‘I haven’t heard of any parents that are in favour of this and I can’t imagine any parent will be happy because there’s just no alternative. It’s an autism school, autistic children need continuity. Change is huge for them.

‘It’s so important for their educational and personal development that you keep them on the same trajectory. Otherwise, you can get school refusal.

‘Once that sets in, it can take years to get back, not weeks, not months, but years. It’s really difficult with autism.’

Another said: ‘SEND is in crisis and there are not enough spaces for every child with special needs. Some of that cohort at Glendinning might be successful at college, but what about the other children? There’s just no provision for them. Glendinning needs to continue their provision to cater to those children. I don’t know what my son is going do or where he’s going to go.’

In response, Wave Multi Academy Trust stated: ‘The consultation period began on 20 June and will run until 18 July 2023.

‘Everyone at Wave Multi Academy Trust is committed to meeting the needs of all the pupils the school serves.

‘Only after the views of all stakeholders have been considered in detail, will a report be submitted to the Trust Board for consideration.’