Salford Open Learning consultation

Salford Open Learning (SOL) has recently had to become a standalone unregistered Alternative Education Provision (having capacity for 30 students) and is no longer able to be supported by Clifton PRU, under their DfE registration.

Salford has developed the Alternative Education Provision offer in the city substantially over the past few years, due to demand from secondary schools. Around five years ago SOL was the only main provider whereas currently there are 42 Alternative Education Provisions (AEPs) available in the city.

These provisions have all been approved through the Flexible Purchasing System process. SOL is approved under Lot 1 and Lot 8 of this system. However, SOL was unable to apply for Lots 2, 3, 4 or 5 as they do not offer a vocational subject or a sporting qualification. SOL was not successful in their bid for a Direct Award under Lot 1 due to not meeting the specification.

In 2018/19 the SOL budget was in deficit by £117,000, mostly due to under achievement of fees and charges (due to a substantial number of the places not being filled). The latest projection for 2019/20 is a deficit of £130,000, again mostly because of fees and charges (there were only 11 current students).

Currently there are four students. These deficits are borne by the High Needs Block of the DSG, which is an expensive alternative provision cost. All other providers in the city do not receive additional funding from the High Needs Block.

It is proposed to close this Alternative Education Provision, SOL, which is currently run by Local Authority staff, within the Youth Service at the Deans Youth Centre site in Moorside Academy site in Swinton, in view of:

  • The high level of alternative provision now available in the city, and
  • The resource, in terms of staffing expertise and High Needs funding, would be better directed to support students (of which there are only 11 current students) to enable them to remain in mainstream education, a strategic priority for the city.

The closure of the SOL Alternative Provision would enable the council to repurpose some of the resource in the Youth Service into preventative provision for Early Help in Schools, including supporting the wider Team around the School Model and preventing Permanent Exclusion (PEX) and linking the work to the Inclusion Strategy. This option has the potential to support a much wider number of young people through 1:1 support, whole family support and school support (although these would not have an educational element).

The closure of SOL would have an impact on some staff, resulting in risk of redundancy for five members of staff (4 FTE and 1 is 0.5). Four members of staff would move back to the Youth Service and three positions are vacant (currently being covered by agency).

The consultation is to seek responses to the proposal to close the Salford Open Learning Alternative Education Provision on Deans Youth Centre site in Swinton from all stakeholders (parents/ guardians, staff and organisations).

Salford Open Learning Alternative Provision is an unregistered provision. Due to the PRU no longer being able to carry on providing their DfE number to enable the provision to be registered, it is proposed to close the Salford Open Learning Alternative Provision. Salford City Council does not want to run unregistered alternative provision. The closure of the SOL Alternative Provision would enable us to repurpose some of the resource in the Youth Service into preventative provision for Early Help in Schools including supporting the wider Team around the School Model and preventing Permanent Exclusion (PEX) and linking the work to the Inclusion Strategy. Given this do you have any other comments or suggestions regarding alternative, suitable and sustainable options for continued delivery of SOL?

This stakeholder consultation will run for 30 days from midnight 5 March 2021 through to midnight 7 April 2021.

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