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People encouraged to have their say on future of special schools in Wiltshire

The extended consultation on how Wiltshire Council can best invest at least £20million into providing special school education in the future is now live.

People are encouraged to have their say on the consultation
https://surveys.wiltshire.gov.uk/snapwebhost/s.asp?k=155361849666  which will be live until 6th May.

Wiltshire Council had previously approved a statutory notice to close three local special schools (Larkrise, Rowdeford and St Nicholas), and planned to build one new special school in Rowdeford. 

The proposals encountered a barrage of opposition from families whose children attend the special schools and community leaders.  Concern was expressed about the long travelling distances and unfamiliarity and stress the changes would cause to the youngsters who have special needs.

Wiltshire Council has now taken the decision to extend the consultation after an agreement was reached with families.

 A group of families had taken a case to court about the process and had been granted a hearing to consider elements of the case, scheduled to be heard next month.

 Wiltshire Council says, “In order to foster good working relationships with families, prevent further delay and to conserve public money and cost for both parties, the council agreed a new way forward.

“Wiltshire Council will now treat all previous consultation and responses that took place between 9 January 2019 and 1 March 2019 as part of a pre-publication consultation.  This means they are part of an initial consultation on what proposals should be published for further consideration.  This is a process with a number of steps, and the council is re-opening the first stage.  The council will reach a decision about the next steps after the end of the extended consultation period.

“The previous proposal to close the three special schools, Rowdeford, Larkrise and St Nicholas and to build a new school at Rowdeford remains an option.  However, Wiltshire Council will take into consideration all responses which differ from those as part of an inclusive and wide-ranging reconsideration of consultation submissions.

 “Consultation responses already provided to the council will be automatically considered as pre-publication consultation, and do not need to be resubmitted. If you would like to submit further information, please note that this can be forwarded to special schools@wiltshire.gov.uk.

 “A new decision on the steps to be taken should then be made by the council’s cabinet this summer.  A summer decision will mean that the timetable for future SEND provision will still be met.

 Terence Herbert, corporate director, children and education said, “We all want the very best for our children and young people with SEND. Schools in the north of the county are full and there will need to be an additional 220 spaces by 2023. 

“We want to work with families and staff to find a solution that both meets the need for additional places, improves outcomes for children and young people with special needs and disabilities who are educated in our mainstream, as well as special schools.  To achieve this, we will carry out further consultation and work with all our families so we can focus on the important job of providing all our pupils with the best education and support.”

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