Wiltshire

Wiltshire Council: Special schools set to close

Parents and campaigners outside cabinet meeting
Image caption Parents and campaigners put plans for a high court challenge against the closures on hold while the second consultation went ahead

Parents of children with special needs say they feel "betrayed" after a council said its plan to close three special schools was set to go ahead.

Wiltshire Council wants to replace St Nicholas in Chippenham, Larkrise in Trowbridge and Rowdeford near Devizes with one "centre of excellence" on the Rowdeford site.

Parents said they would seek legal advice to challenge the decision.

The council said it would work with parents.

The authority had put its plan to close the schools on hold while it consulted on other options following months of criticism from parents and MPs.

The proposal would see a single leadership team for all three schools from 2021 ready for the move in 2023.

'Stabbed in back'

Melissa Loveday, whose son Noah goes to St Nicholas School, said she felt "let down" after believing the council was listening to their idea of expanding the existing school sites.

"They stabbed us in the back and went with their original plan anyway," she said.

Clare Carter's daughter Tilly also attends St Nicholas School.

She said: "The first meeting I went to it seemed like they were still keen to push the one school option but after a few meetings they really did seem to be listening.

"We will be seeking legal advice now. We are in this for the long haul."

'First-class education'

The council said 15 options were looked into as part of the consultation.

It needs to create 220 extra school places for children with special educational needs.

The new school would be maintained within the local authority instead of becoming an academy as originally planned.

A cabinet meeting to decide whether the schools will close is due to take place on 22 May.

Terence Herbert, executive director for children and education, said: "Should these proposals be agreed, we are committing major investment and we will want to work closely with all parents as we continue to provide a first-class education for all children into the future."

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