Statement on Coombe House School from Cllr Andrew Parry, portfolio holder for children, education, skills and early support

July 2022

Over the past few weeks we have been working with a dynamic and changing situation at Coombe House School.

Starting a new special school often presents challenges when children and staff come together for the first time. There have been some issues at the site with full completion of the contracted construction. The school closed for a week after a rocky start. Since that time, most children go to school on a few fixed days each week. The school term ended in line with the other independent schools on Friday, July 8.

We have reviewed the plan for a small number of children to determine if Coombe House School can meet their needs at this time. As a result, their families were informed in writing that we were looking for a suitable education offer elsewhere. All of these families have a single point of contact on the board, and they are kept informed of why we feel we need to make these changes.

Dorset Council provided day-to-day support for staff, children and council. This work continues and involves other members of our special education system. Sean Kretz, the principal of Westfield School, stepped in to support Coombe House as part of a short-term measure, helping teaching staff prepare for the new term in September.

Children and young people are at the heart of our decision making and we must ensure that the school provides a first class education. We are working hard to ensure that all children, families and staff have a better experience next term.

Updated at the July 19 People & Health and Place & Resources joint review committee meeting

Members of Dorset Council will be briefed at a joint review committee meeting on July 19 on the latest position with Coombe House School. Most meetings of the council and its committees are held in public, but it is sometimes necessary for the councilors to meet in camera. This meeting will be a closed session for councilors only, as the update may include information about individuals and children which, for legal reasons, must be kept confidential. A public statement will be released after the meeting with details of the update. We continue to work closely with the families of children and young people who attend or have attended the school.