Special Schools To Close

19 January 2010, 12:10 | Updated: 25 January 2010, 08:20

The future of Bedford's Special schools will be decided today.

Bedford Borough Council's executive committee meet this evening to decide on plans to close Ridgeway, St John's and The Grange Special schools.  Children would then be moved to two brand new facilities at Biddenham and Hastingsbury Upper schools.

The proposals have been welcomed by the majority of parents, all headteachers and governing bodies.

Councillor David Sawyer, Lead Member for Children's Services said: "Our existing special school buildings are no longer fit for purpose and through these proposals we have a much needed opportunity to rebuild our schools to the highest quality design and technology standards.

"We always try as far as possible to give all children access to such elements of our mainstream education program as we can.  If the special schools are as close as possible to what's going on at the mainstream schools we will be able to maximise those opportunities."

If the executive committee decide to approve the plans, the new sites would open for the start of the 2014/15 academic year.  However, the scheme is dependant on the council receiving funding from Government through the Building Schools for the Future program.  If the funding does not come through, the council say they will have to re-evaluate their plans, along with those to change the Borough's mainstream schools from a three tier to two tier system.

At present Bedford has three special schools, all based in Kempston:

  • Grange has 123 pupils between 7 and 16 years of age with moderate learning difficulties as well as special provision for those on the autistic spectrum.
  • Ridgeway has 64 pupils between 3 and 19 years of age with physical disabilities.
  • St John's has 139 pupils aged between 3 and 19 years of age with sever learning difficulties as well as special provision for pupils with multi-sensory impairment.