Consultation over Oakdale Learning Centre expected to start

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A proposal to begin consulting on the possible closure of Oakdale Learning Centre in Mansfield from 31st August 2015 is set for approval by Nottinghamshire County Council next week (Monday, 8 December).

The centre caters for children and young people in the west of the county with social, emotional and behaviour difficulties (SEBD).

It provides places for pupils aged 11 to 16 from North Ashfield, Mansfield and Selston Academy, Holgate Academy, Eastwood Comprehensive School, National C of E Academy and Kimberley School who have been permanently excluded from school.

The learning centre also provides ‘out-of-school’ education for children and young people of secondary age who are currently not attending other local schools as a result of their behaviour.

Chairman of the Council’s Children and Young People’s Committee Councillor John Peck said: “Over the past two years, primary and secondary schools have managed to halve the number of pupils who are permanently excluded from Nottinghamshire schools. And this September, for the first time, we had no permanent exclusions plus a reduction of over 70% so far this academic year compared with the same period last year.

“Instead of permanently excluding children and young people with behavioural difficulties, we have encouraged schools to work together in partnership to provide improved opportunities for those who struggle in traditional settings, particularly in secondary schools.

“We have found that outcomes are better for the young people when they remain within their communities, both in terms of managing their behaviour, and in relation to academic achievement.”

However, the upshot of this success is that the Council has had considerable spare capacity in its pupil referral units, which were all receiving fewer permanently excluded pupils. This resulted in Daybrook Learning Centre in Nottingham closing in August with its counterpart in Bassetlaw scheduled to close at the end of December.

If the closure of Oakdale Learning Centre is approved, it would shut at the end of August next year.

The small number of students who are still based at the centre would be given a better quality of schooling based upon a mixture of formal education and work based learning depending upon their age. And parents and carers would be closely involved in planning for this.

If the proposal is approved by the Council on 8 December, a formal consultation process will be undertaken lasting until early February. This would include pupils, parents/carers, staff, schools and partnerships affected by the proposals.

The outcome of the consultation with recommendations for further action will be discussed at the Committee’s meeting in February.