‘Severe’ change for school
Governor and parents express their concerns
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.