Cornwall Council is proposing to cease funding for overnight boarding at a special educational needs school - a move which has caused upset among parents who rely on the service.  

The council has announced this week that it plans to withdraw the funding at Pencalenick School in Truro.

Currently, Cornwall Council allocates £563,000 per year to the Special Partnership Trust (SPT) to operate residential boarding facilities at Pencalenick.

However, it admits that whilst overnight boarding can benefit pupils, parents and guardians, the number of students using the service has dwindled, and none of the pupils using the boarding facilities has an identified need for residential provision in their Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan.

With more than 4,000 children with EHC plans in Cornwall and a growing demand for Special Educational Needs (SEN) education day placements, the council argues that prioritising day programmes offers ‘better value for money’.

Falmouth Packet: Parents have shared their thoughts regarding the councils plans to stop fundingParents have shared their thoughts regarding the councils plans to stop funding (Image: Let's Talk Cornwall)

The proposal has caused upset and concerns among parents who value the positive impact that the boarding programme has had on their children.

One parent whose son attends Pencalenick highlighted the benefits of the overnight stays. She said: “My son has gained so much independence and social skills from boarding here just one night a week. To have that taken away will be devastating.”

Another parent who hoped for her child to attend the school in the future said: “This is a valuable service and provision for young adults with special needs and provides so much for them. It helps families too.

“I was banking on this for when my son starts in September and have friends who find this service so helpful.”

A spokesperson from Cornwall Council said: “After careful consideration, the council has concluded that this does not offer the best value for taxpayers and is proposing that the money would be better spent on providing more on-day education places for SEND pupils across Cornwall.

“It is one of our priorities that Cornwall is a brilliant place to be a child and grow up, and this includes ensuring that services and facilities for SEND children are the best and most wide-reaching that we can provide with our limited funding."

The council has launched a consultation process and has given assurances that the feedback received, alongside the results of a separate consultation by SPT, will be considered before a final decision is made.

If approved, the boarding facility is expected to close by the end of the current academic year, with SEN day programmes at Pencalenick School remaining unaffected.

The consultation period concludes on June 10, 2024, at 5pm. Parents and guardians are encouraged to voice their opinions by completing the council's consultation questionnaire.

You can fill in Cornwall Council’s questionnaire here or the Special Partnership Trust’s form here