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The next stage to shape the future of special school provision has begun, with a statutory consultation and a series of meetings to ensure parents, carers and stakeholders have an opportunity to have their say.
Wiltshire Council says they are proposing to invest £32million in special education needs and disabilities by bringing Larkrise, St Nicholas and Rowdeford special schools in northern Wiltshire together under a single integrated leadership team by 2021 and building up to 400 additional and remodelled places on the Rowdeford site by 2023.
Wiltshire Council says, “While the build is happening, all three sites at Larkrise, St Nicholas and Rowdeford special schools will stay open. When most of the new places are available, further consideration will be given to the number of sites required in light of the need for places at that future time.
“The statutory consultation will run for four weeks until 30th September. Once complete, it will go to Wiltshire Council cabinet to consider and decide upon, before being presented to the schools’ adjudicator for a final decision.
“Meetings for invited staff, governors and parent carers will be held this month at Rowdeford, St Nicholas School and Larkrise School.
“There will also be other opportunities advertised through Wiltshire Parent Carer Council for interested parties to have their say.”
Pauline Church, cabinet member for children, education and skills said, “As the start of term begins, we look forward to meeting with students, parent/carers and the community, so we can discuss the developing proposals for special school provision. We want to talk through the next steps in creating a happy and harmonious school across the three sites where diversity is celebrated and children and young people thrive.
“The consultation is available online for people to make their views known.”
Parents of children with special needs have expressed their disappointment and anger about the council plans to close the three special schools.
Concern was expressed about the long travelling distances and unfamiliarity and stress the changes would cause to the youngsters who have special needs.