Wiltshire

Anger over Wiltshire special schools closure plan

Child holding hands
Image caption Wiltshire Council needs an additional 220 school places for children with special educational needs

An MP has criticised plans to close three special schools in a £20m restructure.

Wiltshire Council wants to replace the "out of date" schools with one new facility near Devizes to help cater for 220 extra pupils.

MP Andrew Murrison has raised concerns about extra travel time for pupils.

He said: "Families will tell you how traumatic travel to school can be for children with profound learning difficulties."

The proposals would see a new school in Rowdeford near Devizes built to replace the three existing schools in Rowdeford, Larkrise in Trowbridge, and St Nicholas in Chippenham.

The council said the schools would remain open until the new facility, catering for children aged three to 16, opened in September 2023.

Karen Greenland's nine-year-old son Carter, who is autistic, currently attends Larkrise.

She said: "I am angry. If he does end up changing schools, then he won't be going to school at all because I'll pull him out.

"I would not send him to a different school. If I get fined I get fined. I will not put him through all that pressure again."

Cabinet member for children's services Laura Mayes said: "We know that this will mean change for children and young people."

She added: "We need an additional 220 places for children with special educational needs over the next decade.

"The problem is that Larkrise and St Nicholas are no longer able to cope with this expansion."

However, Mr Murrison said: "I cannot see how bussing my vulnerable young constituents all the way to Devizes would be in their best interests."

The plans will be discussed at a cabinet meeting on 27 November before further consultation with parents, families and schools.

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