Certain individual pupils may have a disability which requires specific improvements to a building or site in order to meet their needs and thus enable full access to the school and its facilities.
Such improvements can cost thousands of pounds and may be beyond the resource of schools to fund. We usually allocate a dedicated annual budget to undertake such projects within our capital programme. The Schools Access Initiative (SAI) budget for 2019 - 2020 is £800,000.
Proposals to make adaptations to schools funded from the SAI budget are considered by an inter-disciplinary officer group with the highest priority being given to meet the current identified educational needs of disabled pupils.
These individual needs are normally identified via the appropriate county specialist support teams or via our education psychology service. In considering proposals the inter-disciplinary officer group use the following guidance provided by the Department for Education (DfE):
Criteria for support guidance
When considering which school or schools to select for the schools access initiative, local authorities should look at the capacity of each school to take advantage of the access improvements and the availability of accessible provision across the authority, the school's special educational needs (SEN) policies and their teaching practices and ethos. It may also wish to consider the degree to which facilities may be used by a wider community. Projects should seek to improve mainstream education in one or more of the following ways:
- Enhanced continuation of access across nursery, primary and secondary phases in the local area.
- Reduced home to school travel time for pupils by making a local school accessible.
- Improved physical access to the school - this may include setting down and picking up points, ramps, handrails and lifts and improvements to escape provisions.
- Improved physical movement around the building, including adaptations for sensory disability such as improved colour schemes and access to social areas such as dining rooms.
- Improved access to the national curriculum, including specialist furniture such as desks, rise and fall tables, sinks, ovens and information and IT equipment - both hardware and software.
- Improved accommodation within the building including toilets for disabled pupils, medical rooms and sound proofing for pupils with hearing disabilities.
- Projects should contribute to the authority's overall strategy for increasing access and inclusion for pupils with special educational needs.
SAI project design and construction
Once a proposal for SAI funding has been agreed by the inter-disciplinary officer group, it is passed to corporate property who undertake a feasibility design. This is then shared with the school and the appropriate support service. Subject to the agreement of all parties the proposal is then costed and Cabinet approval sought. Following approval the work is procured and managed by corporate property.
The SAI Fund is managed by Jill Beacham, Development Manager, Children’s Services development.
For further information email: firstname.lastname@example.org or tel: 01629 536549.