About | 01.11.2017 | By Paul Simpson

A question about resourced provision

I would be grateful for your help regarding the required staffing for deaf children in a resourced base at a mainstream primary school. I know from the NDCS Quality Standards that one ToD for 6 deaf children is recommended. What I am not sure about is how much contact with the ToD is advised. I am a ToD in a resource with 5 deaf children, all statemented; next year there will be 4, the following year only 2.They all have 1:1 support in class. I teach them language and differentiate the maths.

I am leaving but no ToD has been appointed for the Resource. Could the children be merely monitored or does there need to be a ToD in the resource?

Secondly, if the LA decides to close the resource provision in the future if no more children join, what procedures would they need to follow?

The Consultant replies: I’ll deal with the prospect of closure first.

If a provision no longer has pupils, it would be sensible to close the provision and move the staff to an area where there is a need. This has happened frequently in a number of cases as both special schools and provisions are no longer used in favour of a mainstream school. With the advent of cochlear implants, many children who would not have succeeded in a mainstream school are now making good progress in such a placement. One of the drawbacks of ‘closing’ a facility is that you never know when you might need it again. It only takes two or three pupils to ‘parachute’ into the area to make the facility viable again. In many LAs it has been necessary to keep a skeleton of provisions and if the numbers drop to zero, ‘mothball’ them so they can be resurrected later. This can be a planned move and you may be able to predict the need for the facility in the future by looking at the pre-schoolers you currently have on caseload. It is important to make these predictions. Sometimes it is possible to completely close the facility when there are no children and there are none in the ‘pipeline’. However, you must always be aware of the future need and, in some cases, services have used an ’empty’ facility as a resource base until numbers increase.

To my knowledge there is no ‘official procedure’ for closing a facility. I think it would be prudent to carry out an impact assessment to illustrate that you have considered all the factors prior to making the final decision. Involving local parents and the NDCS is always helpful too.

The notion that there should be 6 pupils per ToD is just that, a notion. There is nothing in official guidance that identifies maximum (or minimum for that matter) numbers of children in a facility (any facility). Where numbers have fallen, there is good reason to reduce staff and use them elsewhere. Some services have found that the ToD works part time at the facility and works a peripatetic caseload for the remainder of the time. Of course the ToD may wish to reduce hours, although this is difficult as there is no requirement to increase hours (without prior agreement) in the future. We all need to be sensible about number ratios. It is the responsibility of the ToD to provide the proper guidance in deciding staffing for a facility. High need children will need more support than low need children and this will affect the ratios, of course.

In terms of whether there should be a ToD present every day, there are some constraints. Many statements specify ‘daily access to a Teacher of the Deaf’. This need not mean a ToD has to be there at all times but it may necessitate a ToD visiting every day (if the numbers are very small). A ToD is not simply there for additional support but also to manage the 1:1 staff who support the pupils in the class. In many cases this is the bulk of the work, in a facility, for the ToD.