Education Schools

The Dean Trust chairman denies bus plan discriminates against special needs children at AoM school

By Barbara Metcalfe at

The Chairman of  Sale-based The Dean Trust which oversees both schools at the centre of a special needs row, has angrily denied any discrimination of the children involved.

But he said the situation regarding pupils with Statements or Education Health Care plans naming Ashton on Mersey as their school of choice, was putting an unbearable strain on the school’s resources.

As we reported on Saturday parents of up to 20 children with the new Education Health Care Plans had named AoM as their preferred school.

The local authority has no choice, and neither has the school, other than to accept special needs children ahead of other children. They have to list their preferences and wait to hear if they have been successful.

AoM has a reputation for developing special needs pupils and has a higher proportion of SEND pupils than most schools in the Greater Manchester area.

However, the Headteacher of the school, Aidan Moloney,  has now written to the parents of the September 2016 cohort to advise them they are considering sending them to another school in the Trust’s portfolio – Broadoak in Partington.

If they agree the plans then the children would be brought to school each morning and then taken by bus to Broadoak, which is rated as “Good” by Ofsted, but has achieved below the national average academically. They would be ferried back to school before the end of the school day for collection.

Some parents are now considering legal action under section 43 of the Children and Families Act 2014 which states that the LEA – Trafford – must allocate a place at a school or academy if specified on the EHCP, the document drawn up to agree levels of support for the children.

Councillor Brian Rigby, chairman of The Dean Trust

Councillor Brian Rigby, chairman of The Dean Trust

Councillor Brian Rigby is chairman of the Trust.  He spoke to Sale Today about the situation. When asked if the proposal was discriminatory he said:”Certainly not.  We are trying to provide outstanding education to all children including those with special needs.

” Not only do we take more pupils with EHCPs than any other school in Trafford,  we take more than all the secondary schools put together.

“Ashton  has for many years now been the main provider of SEND education apart from special schools and we intend to continue to provide,  but such is the demand we are looking for a better way of accommodating everyone.

“The law permits  special needs children living outside the area to obtain a place before local children.  Local people have complained and we are trying to be all things to all people.”

He said existing pupils from Ashton and other schools in the Trust already go to Broadoak for specific lessons a number of times a week and that  parents are happy with the standard of education.

Broadoak School Partington - "Not a ghetto school"

Broad oak School,  Partington – Councillor Rigby :”It is not a ghetto school”

“This is something that has been suggested in attempt to cater for the growing number of children wanting a place at Ashton,” he said. “It will be the same teachers working with the children. Teachers  move within our Trust amongst the six schools.”

When he was asked about one headline, which said Broadoak was a “Ghetto school”, Councillor Rigby said: “That is disgraceful, absolutely disgraceful to lable a good school like Broadoak, which is providing an outstanding education,  as a ghetto school. It is shameful.  The facilities at Broadoak school outstanding.”

The Department of Education is talking to the school and the local authority about the situation. Councillor Rigby says the matter is now with their solicitors.