A St Albans ‘primary support base’ for children with emotional and behavioural difficulties is set to close.

The ‘base’ – or PSB- at Bowmansgreen Primary School aims to offer inclusive support for children with social, emotional and behavioural needs for an intense period of time.

But, at a meeting of Hertfordshire County Council’s Cabinet on Monday (24 September), councillors decided it should close – with services being transferred to the Links Academy.

Executive member for education, libraries and localism Cllr Terry Douris it was not appropriate to continue with the ‘base’ at the school – saying it did not have the specific space required.

He highlighted the Bowmansgreen governors’ response to the proposal, which highlighted the lack of space , the pupils’ violent and aggressive behaviours and the overall impact the base had on the school.

In her response to the consultation Bowmansgreen chair of governors Karen Penn said that while pupils were supposed to attend the base for short periods, in practice, they remain there until secondary school or until they have a place in specialist provision.

All of the pupils at the base, she said, are at risk of exclusion for violent and aggressive behaviours, have special educational needs or needs relating to social, mental and emotional health.

“The Bowmansgreen PSB is too small a physical space for pupils who are often violent towards each other or staff,” she said in her consultation response. “The PSB staff are not trained to meet such challenging needs and behaviours.

“The governors have serious concerns about the health, safety and well-being of PSB staff who are supporting pupils with such challenging behaviours on a daily basis and who are routinely abused by pupils, both verbally and physically.”

She says the position of the ‘base’ means it has an impact on the entire school.

“The negative impact upon the wider, mainstream part of the school is significant,” she said.

“As the PSB provision is in a small classroom at the heart of the school building, challenging behaviours are seen and heard immediately by other pupils which is not acceptable and cannot be excused or defended.”

As part of the proposal, a small number of places would be available at the Links Academy – with new £250,000 accommodation to be in place for short stay, 6th day and longer term provision, as required.

Meanwhile, the report says, that in addition to enhanced education opportunity and improved facilities, there could be a range of out reach services, advice and support.

Overall there were 18 responses to  the public consultation. Fourteen agreed with the proposal to close the primary support base, two disagreed and two didn’t know.

At the meeting, on Monday, cabinet authorised the director of children’s services to publish a statutory notice to close the primary support base from September 1, 2019.