To all regular readers of the Gemstones’ blog, who may have thought we had given up on our vision for a Special School, apologies for the gap in transmission. I can reassure you that we remain undaunted by the rejection of our Free School proposal and quite determined to find a way of meeting the gap in provision for children with social, communication, emotional and behavioural difficulties. (Yes as you can see a theme is emerging here and one famously associated with the London Tube system.)
The Gemstones team has been hard at work developing our ideas for an outreach service to schools and families. We decided that we would start by offering this part of the service as it does not require the same level of investment, particularly in buildings, as setting up the school provision we have planned. Glenn from Rainbow Creative has designed us a logo and a website is under construction. We are planning to consult a group of schools about the proposals for service and if response is encouraging then aim to pilot service with a group of schools. Meanwhile we will be applying for grants to help support the work with families in need of specialist services for their children.
We have continued to meet with Suffolk local authority. Officers remain reticent to provide the statement of support required by the Department of Education due to the impact that they say it would have on their funding of existing special school places. Whilst we do not have this written statement of support we will not submit another Special Free School proposal as it is an essential pre-requisite of any special school proposal and was a major factor in our
We also spent time involved in meetings with a Suffolk Academy. The plan here was to work jointly to establish a Special School on their site. We shared our detailed proposal and discussed possibilities of working together to establish either a Special Free School or an Independent Special School within their site. In January we heard that they were submitting their own Special Free School proposal, which was a huge disappointment after what had seemed such a promising start to our negotiations.
Our plan now is to continue looking for suitable buildings for a school in the Ipswich area and to identify private investment funding to get us up and running. So if there is anyone who can help with a gap in our set up costs then please get in touch. We are waiting to hear from you.