The council as a whole is organised into five departments and employs some 8,000 staff. The Children’s Services Department is particularly well respected and its services have for some time been a powerhouse of curricular and pedagogical development. Much of its work has influenced national policies. Throughout the system, there is a strong sense of community, with schools working in partnership rather than in competition. The relationship between the Local Authority and the schools is very strong.
The Local Authority maintains approximately sixty schools. Nine are secondary comprehensive schools, one is a large special school and the remainder are primary schools. A number of primary and secondary schools have Additional Resource Provisions (ARPs), which provide assessment and specialised education for children with a range of special needs. The ARPs supplement the special school provision and work strongly to support inclusion.
Most primary schools currently cover the full range of pupils from 3 to 11, although about a third are separate infant or junior schools. Primary and infant schools all have an attached nursery, providing 3 hours per day of free nursery education. As elsewhere, many schools are now either providing or signposting a range of extended services, including wrap-around care. There are fourteen children’s centres, mainly attached to schools.
With the development of new housing, the Local Authority will be building at least four new primary schools and one new secondary school over the next five or so years. The Building Schools for the Future programme will see major changes and improvements to the secondary school provision. The Primary Capital Programme will allow for some significant remodelling of many of the primary school facilities progressively over the next fifteen years.
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