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Proposed changes to the capacity and designation of The Castle School to operate a satellite site at Theale

Proposed changes to the size of roll and designation

Consultation status Results published
Start date: 2022-01-10
End date: 2022-02-06
Results 2022-04-30
Category: Caring for Children and Families, Schools, Learning and Libraries

Activity closed.


Two prior consultations have already taken place in relation to this proposal. The first took place between 9 November and 20 December 2020 to seek views on the development of a specialist resourced provision for secondary aged learners (aged 11-18 years) with complex social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) needs, who may also have a diagnosis of Autism.

The response to the consultation was very positive, with 98% (84 out of 86) of respondents in favour of the proposals. Several respondents stated that this was badly needed provision, which they very much welcomed.

A detailed analysis of the consultation outcome can be found on the original consultation webpage.

Following this, the old Theale Primary School was identified as a potential site and The Castle School was identified as a host school. A second consultation was held between 30 April and 13 June 2021 to establish the views of the public towards the use of the old Theale Primary School as the site for the new provision.

The response to this second consultation was also highly positive, with a considerable majority (86%) of participants having no objection to the project. Questions which respondents raised largely concerned the nature of the provision, the use of the site, and support for pupils.

What we're proposing

Project planning is now being undertaken to establish the feasibility of Theale Primary School site as a location for the proposed SEMH provision. As this provision will be managed by The Castle School, it is necessary to increase the size of The Castle School by 42 places and to formally change to the type of SEN provision the school is designated to provide to accommodate the needs of children and young people with a primary need of SEMH. This consultation aims to capture the views of local residents and stakeholders towards both of these changes. You can read more about this in the Icon for pdf detailed proposal document [42.61KB] .

Why do you need to increase the size of The Castle School?

This SEMH provision will function as an expansion to Castle School, who will run the provision and manage the staff who will run the site. Children who attend the provision will be enrolled at the Castle School.

The Castle School  currently has 170 pupils. We are seeking to increase the size of The Castle School by 42 places over five years between September 2022 and September 2027 to a new total of 212. These increases to the school's size will be phased, with no one increase exceeding 10% of the school's current cohort. In order to increase the size of the school, West Berkshire council is following a formal consultation process to understand the views of local stakeholders towards this overall increase in pupil capacity. You can see a breakdown of these phased increases to the school's size below:

Academic YearIncrease in sizeTotal children on roll


Why do you need to change the type of SEN provision the school can provide?

The Castle School is designated as able to meet the needs of children and young people with Autism, Moderate Learning Difficulty (MLD), Severe Learning Difficulty (SLD) and Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulty (PMLD). In order for the school to host a provision to meet the needs of children with SEMH/ASD needs, this designation needs to be changed to include SEMH.

Why we want you views

This provision will be managed by The Castle School and the old Theale Primary School will be a satellite site to the main school. As such, we would like to hear your views on our proposals to:

  • Increase the capacity of Castle School by 42 pupils over five years from 170 to  212.
  • Change the designation and categories of SEN provision that Castle School provide so that they can teach children with SEMH needs Who may also have a diagnosis of autism.

How to take part

If you'd like to comment on our proposals, please complete our online survey by midnight on Sunday, 6 February 2022which should take about 5 minutes.

Anybody can object to, or comment on, the proposal.

If you'd like a copy of the detailed proposal document and consultation in an alternative or physical format, or have any queries about the consultation, please contact the SEN and Disabled Children's Service, West Berkshire Council, Market Street Offices, Newbury, Berkshire, RG14 5LD. Queries can also be directed to 01635 519713 or

Please note: responses must be received by us before the close of the consultation at midnight on Sunday, 6 February 2022.

What happens next

Your feedback will be taken into consideration, and a recommendation will be put to Head of Education for a final decision in March 2022.

NB: Please allow enough time to complete the online survey. There is no "save and continue" button; however, if you use the same device and web browser you started completing the survey with, you can pick up where you left off and/or edit your response until the survey closes. This is because a cookie is stored in your browser that remembers your survey response. Please note, responses are saved and submitted 'page-by-page' when you click the 'Next' or 'Done' button at the bottom of each page: they don't automatically save as each question is answered.

If more than one person in your household wishes to complete the online survey, they must use a different device and/or browser.

What you told us

We received fifty one responses in total. Fifty five percent of responses identified as local residents, twenty four percent identified as parents or carers of a child with SEND and twenty percent were identified as education professionals. One hundred percent of responses agreed that the capacity of The Castle School should be increased over five years to accommodate the new provision and ninety eight percent agreed that The Castle Schools should be designated to provide for children with SEMH needs. 

The vast majority of all received comments were highly positive towards the proposal, with the majority of comments highlighting the lack of appropriate local provision for children with these needs and the requirement for this provision to be established. Some comments positively highlighted the relevant expertise and knowledge of The Castle School as the host for the provision and the suitability of the old Theale Primary School as the location for the provision.

What we did

The Head of Education gave final approval by Delegated Officer Decision on 21 March 2022 to the increase in pupil capacity at The Castle School from 170 to 212 and to changing Castle School's designation of need to include "SEMH". These have been amended on The Castle School’s record on the Get Information about School’s website ahead of the planned opening of the provision in September 2022.

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