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Friday, 24 July 2020 15:54

Education, Health and Care Plans in Kent


Private and State Special Schools
Private Special School Provision
for Kent pupils
  Pupils Average Cost*
2010/11 145  
2015/16 494 £38,000
2017/18 680 £42,000
2018/19 954 £41,0000

 *The figures in the table all come from different data sets, so I suspect the fall in 2018/19 is caused by a different method of calculation.   

The enormous pressure placed on the KCC schools budget by private Special School provision paid for by KCC can be seen from the table below. 
Average Cost
per Pupil
State Special Schools 4,102 £86 million £21,000*
Private Special Schools 954 £39 million £41,000

*This figure is inevitably an approximation, as there will be other budget costs under different Council headings.

2019-20 data shows that by far the most expensive private school catering for Kent children is St Piers School (Young Epilepsy), in Lingfield, Surrey which offers both non-residential and boarding offers in new premises with magnificent and very expensive facilities which would outclass many exclusive private schools, at an average annual cost of £92,691 to KCC, for the 11 children placed there.  This is more than twice the cost of a place at Eton, although this is beaten by Brighton College at £50,880 and four other schools. Clearly I don't have the medical knowledge to comment on whether the school is the most appropriate for a child's needs, but I do ask the question whether it is right for KCC to pay for access to such plush surroundings. By contrast, Chailey Heritage School in East Sussex, which also caters for children with Epilepsy, along with other more profound and complex conditions, has an Outstanding Ofsted Report and costs an average of just £37,890 a year

The Step By Step day school, in East Grinstead, for Autistic children, comes next at an average £65,329 for each of the five Kent children. Founded by parents it offers 1:1 teaching through the day. Trinity School in Rochester is the most popular private Special School for Kent pupils costing an annual average of just £25435 for the 70 who are on the roll.   Both of these two schools were found Good in their most recent Ofsted inspection. 
In 2018/19 the annual cost of a non-residential place at the Helen Allison School, run by the National Autistic Society in Meopham, ranged from £38,264 to £68,313. The school was found to be Inadequate in 2019.
Are Private Special Schools better than state ones in general? Ofsted does not think so, with nearly a third of state schools being found Outstanding and 95% Good or Outstanding. For private schools, the proportion with Outstanding is less than half, at 15%, whilst five Require Improvement and two were found Inadequate.  
      Comparison of Ofsted Rating of State and Private Special Schools
  Number Outstanding Good
State Special Schools 22 7 14 1 0
Private Special  Schools
with KCC funded Children
33 5 21 5 2

 Kent's own Ofsted outstanding schools, leading a very strong sector, are: Bower Grove (Social, Emotional and Mental Health Needs (SEMH)); Goldwyn (twice, SEMH);  Beacon (twice, Profound Severe and Complex, including severe Autism (PSC); Five Acre Wood (twice, PSC); Ifield (three times, PSC); Meadowfield (twice, PSC); Milestone (three times, PSC). You will find a review of every Kent Special School and Unit here

I plan to look at Medway's ECHP provision in a later article but its five Special Schools perform even more strongly overall than those in Kent. Abbey Court Foundation Special School has had two consecutive Outstanding Ofsted inspections,  Bradfields Academy is also Outstanding. Danecourt School is Good but previously Outstanding, and Rivermead Schools' recent Short Inspection was so good it teetered on recommending outstanding. The only weak point was the Inspire Special Free School, placed in Special Measures on its first inspection, but now Good under new management. 


Ofsted Outstanding Private Schools Catering for Kent Pupils,      
  Number of Paid
for Kent Pupils
Annual Cost
Latest Ofsted
Birtley House 26 £14,047  Outstanding West Kingsdown Day
Chailey Heritage 9 £38,790  Outstanding East Sussex Day/R
Moor House  17 £39,492  Outstanding  Oxted, Surrey  Day
The Quest  12  £40,614  Outstanding  Paddock Wood  Day
West Heath   54  £43,455  Outstanding  Sevenoaks  Day/R
Private Schools Catering for Kent Pupils,  Poor Value for Money? 
  Number of Paid
for Kent Pupils
Annual Cost
Latest Ofsted
Location Day/
Blue Skies  7 £28,035 Requires Improvement Chatham Day
City of Rochester(4) 6 £17,867 Inadequate Cliffe Woods Day
Cross Keys (1) 6 £34,222 Requires Improvement  Broadstairs Day
Ferndearle 15  £37,763  Requires Improvement  Folkestone Day/R 
Helen Allison 33   £43,390  Inadequate Gravesend  Day/R
Learning Opportunities (2)  25  £31,470  Requires Improvement  Deal  Day
Pier View (3)   16 £38,738   Requires Improvement  Gravesend  Day
 (1) Opened 2018
(2) Requires Improvement twice running
(3) This list includes some fairly poor schools and one has to ask why if they have any choice in the matter, are KCC paying out for the fees of Kent children at these schools. Pier View Academy works mainly with children with EHCPs who are out of school on a short medium or long term basis, with just 26 pupils at the time of the most recent inspection last summer. This found Pier View Requires Improvement for the second time running after a previous Inadequate finding. The long term headteacher has now left. Situated above an Estate Agents in an urban street. I advised a family friend whose child was at Blue Skies recently and was shocked by the lack of care shown. The child moved to a KCC Special School and was transformed.  
(4) City of Rochester School has just 14 pupils on roll and provides specialist education for children and young people with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Its only advantage appears to be that it is cheap. The Ofsted Report describes a dreadful school, but on the bright side 'A small proportion of pupils are learning well in English and mathematics'.






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