‘Se­vere’ change for school

Gov­er­nor and par­ents ex­press their con­cerns

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - NEWS - By Jo Anne Rowney

A SCHOOL ded­i­cated to help­ing girls with spe­cial needs may have to stop board­ing pupils if it is forced to change its ad­mis­sions cri­te­ria.

Al­fris­ton School, in Penn Road, Bea­cons­field, agreed the cri­te­ria with Bucks County Coun­cil (BCC) in 2007.

The pro­posed changes are part of a re­view by BCC to cre­ate more places for chil­dren who have se­vere dif­fi­cul­ties.

Al­fris­ton cur­rently takes on up to 20 girls a year, and in the past five years has had 82 board­ers.

The school as a whole was rated as out­stand­ing by Of­sted in 2013. Its board­ing was also given an out­stand­ing rat­ing for ed­u­ca­tional out­comes.

The cri­te­ria for board­ers are that they have pri­mary care needs, live fur­ther than an hour away and if board­ing would sig­nif­i­cantly af­fect how well they do.

Gov­er­nor Keith Jones said: “The school is for girls with mod­er­ate learn­ing de­lay and this would change the cri­te­ria to se­vere. It also lim­its it to those with com­plex needs or autism but only in cases of chal­leng­ing be­hav­iour.

“We have girls in pri­mary care sit­u­a­tions but even th­ese wouldn’t be al­lowed to board.”

Mr Jones added there would be a pe­riod of tran­si­tion, dur­ing which the school could not take on any new board­ers.

He said: “We do an aw­ful lot of work with the girls who board, to help them be in­de­pen­dent and build up so­cial skills. For some it is the first time they can in­ter­act with girls their own age. This wouldn’t be an op­tion if this goes ahead.”

Christina and Ian Ten­cor’s daugh­ter, Anna, boarded at Al­fris­ton. She suf­fered com­pli­ca­tions as a re­sult of meningeal en­cephali­tis when only 11 weeks old; doc­tors thought she would not be able to eat or walk.

Her par­ents said she learned skills at Al­fris­ton that en­abled her to study food ser­vice at col­lege. She now has a job and lives hous­ing.

They said: “Board­ing at Al­fris­ton School pro­vided Anna with the op­por­tu­nity to have a ‘nor­mal’ life out­side school and where she learned how to look after her­self and to so­cialise with oth­ers.

“This was a



life- en­hanc­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, which could not have been ob­tained in a for­mal class­room set­ting.

“Al­fris­ton has trans­formed Anna’s life and we have no doubt that she could not be where she is to­day with­out it.”

BCC said there will be a con­sul­ta­tion. If a child no longer meets the re­vised cri­te­ria, fund­ing will cease, although chil­dren al­ready in res­i­dence will con­tinue to be funded un­til they leave.

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