PLANS have been submitted to create a temporary early years inclusion hub at a Cradley school.

A planning application has been submitted for the erection of a temporary building, to be used as one of the council’s proposed five locally based hubs, at Caslon Primary School in Beeches View Avenue, the News can reveal.

Dudley Council has been tendering to find providers for the proposed hubs but the council said today this application was submitted independently by the school and it would not have any bearing on decisions to be made regarding its controversial shake-up of early years provision for children with SEN.

The authority has said it wants to decentralise early years provision for children across the borough with additional and complex needs who currently attend Leapfrog and Leapfrog 2 at Netherton Park Nursery School in Netherton, Dudley.

Parents of little ones who have been helped by Leapfrog have repeatedly called for the plan to be rethought out.

They’ve raised fears that five new hastily opened hubs will not be able to provide the same “outstanding” level of care and education that has been available at the Leapfrog facilities.

Their pleas, however, have fallen on deaf ears and the council is pressing ahead with plans to create hubs in five areas of the borough, by the end of the year, so that services can be provided within the communities that SEN pupils live in.

Plans submitted on July 19 for the creation of a hub at Caslon Primary School include a design and access statement which states: “Caslon Primary Community School have bid to become one of five early years inclusion hubs throughout the Dudley borough.

“There is no available accommodation for this new group of approximately five young children in a morning session and a further five young children in the afternoon, the hub would operate as a separate unit but connected to the main school and have three staff members.

“Space is limited on the site but an area of land adjacent to the main pedestrian entrance to the school is an ideal location as it allows children to come and go without disturbing the running of the main school.

“Its location next to Caslon’s Forest School will have other benefits as it provides much-needed toilet facilities and amenities for staff when working in this important area of the school.

“The new facility will utilize an open area of the Forest school which is laid to grass and currently has timber play equipment which is now not in use due to its poor and unsafe condition.

“The creation of five locality - based inclusion hubs will enable a more equitable offer of local provision within the Dudley local area and be an extension of the cluster-based approach across the Early Years’ Service.

“This is in line with Dudley’s vision for children that all future resource bases will be on a locality-based approach where children with identified needs can access early intervention in their local community school or setting reducing the need for children to travel to an early year setting outside of their community.”

It says the inclusion hub model will help to advance a “more inclusive culture, while still offering targeted and specialist interventions to children who require this level of support in the right place at right time” and it adds: “This will also contribute to a more sustainable confident and inclusive workforce.”

Councillor Paul Bradley, deputy leader of Dudley Council, described the plan for Caslon Primary School as a "speculative application put in independently by the school" which he stressed "has not been commissioned by the council". 

He added: "We have currently paused the tender process in relation to the hubs, and any planning applications submitted will have no bearing on any decision to progress with the development of the early years inclusion hubs; nor influence any tender arrangements should these progress.”