October 4, 2008

Special Needs Pupils to Join Mainstream ; City Unveils Its Plans for Schools’ Future


SEVEN special needs schools are set to close and move to the same site as mainstream schools.

Consultation has begun on the plans by Liverpool City Council which will see the transformation of secondary special education in Liverpool.

Under the proposals, the schools will be rebuilt on mainstream schools sites allowing access to mainstream facilities such as gyms and IT suites.

The plans being consulted on are based on the following co- locating proposals:

Hope School with Gateacre Community Comprehensive.

Lower Lee and Abbott's Lea with St Francis Xavier's College.

Ernest Cookson with West Derby Comprehensive.

Palmerston with the proposed Garston Academy by 2013, with additional places for children with physical disabilities provided at Broadgreen High.

Sandfield Park would offer increased places for children with severe learning difficulties from September, 2009.

Redbridge High would co-locate with Fazakerley High School and Bank View High.

Ashfield School would relocate to the south site of the current Bank View High Special School.

Clifford Holroyde, which serves children with behavioural, emotional and social difficulties, would be maintained on its current site.

Three special schools - Hope, Lower Lee and Ernest Cookson - fall under what is known as Wave 2 of the Government scheme, with work on new buildings due to be completed between 2009 and 2011, while the rest fall under Wave 6, to be completed by 2013.

The move is part of a national integration plan reflecting the council's commitment to educate special educational needs pupils alongside their peers.

Pupils with more complex needs, for whom co-location with mainstream pupils is not appropriate, will continue to receive the same level of specialist provision.

The council has already had positive feedback from the governing bodies of the special schools concerned, but is urging parents to have their say.

The council's research into what provision will be needed found there will be an increased need for places for secondary age pupils with Autistic Spectrum Disorder, Severe Learning Difficulty or Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulty (PMLD).

They also found there will be less need for places for pupils with Complex Learning Difficulties and Physical Disability.

Cllr Keith Turner, executive member for children's services, said: "Liverpool's Building Schools for the Future programme is giving us a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform education in the city

"We're consulting extensively with schools, parents and pupils to make sure we get it right.

"The plans for special schools are about giving every young person with special needs the best facilities, enabling them to be educated alongside their peers in mainstream schools wherever possible while enhancing the level of specialist education they receive.

"If approved, these plans will result in massive investment in our special schools, providing every single child with special needs a modern, 21st century education, tailor-made to meet their needs."

The Labour opposition group has backed the plans.

The consultation runs until Friday, November 14.

Plans are about giving every young person the best facilities

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