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26 March 2019, 09:32 | Updated: 26 March 2019, 09:45
Plans to shut three special needs schools in Wiltshire have been put on hold, following a big campaign by families.
Larkrise in Trowbridge, St Nicholas in Chippenham and Rowdeford were set to be replaced with one new school in Rowde.
Wiltshire Council will now look again at it's plans and have issued the following release:
Wiltshire Council is extending its consultation on investing £20m into special school education after an agreement was reached with families.
A group of families had taken a case to court about the process and had been granted a hearing to consider elements of the case, scheduled to be heard next month.
In order to foster good working relationships with families, prevent further delay and to conserve public money and cost for both parties, the council has now agreed a new way forward.
Wiltshire Council has agreed to withdraw the decision to approve a statutory notice about the closure of three special schools (Larkrise, Rowdeford and St Nicholas), and the related notice regarding the opening of a new special school in Rowdeford.
Wiltshire Council will now treat all previous consultation and responses that took place between 9 January 2019 and 1 March 2019 as part of a pre-publication consultation. This means they are treated as part of an initial consultation on what proposals should be published for further consideration. This is a process with a number of steps, and the council is re-opening the first stage. The council will reach a decision about the next steps after the end of the extended consultation period.
There will be at least a four-week extension of the pre-publication consultation. As part of this, all responses, including those advocating options that differ from the proposal to close the three schools and open a single school in Rowdeford, will be fully considered. Consultation responses already provided to the council will be automatically considered as pre-publication consultation, and do not need to be resubmitted. If you would like to submit further information, please note that this can be forwarded to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A new decision on the steps to be taken should then be made by the council's cabinet this summer. A summer decision will mean that the timetable for future SEND provision will still be met.
Terence Herbert, Corporate Director, Children and Education, said: "We all want the very best for our children and young people with SEND. Schools in the north of the county are full and there will need to be an additional 220 spaces by 2023. We want to work with families and staff to find a solution that both meets the need for additional places, improves outcomes for children and young people with special needs and disabilities who are educated in our mainstream, as well as special schools. To achieve this, we will carry out further consultation and work with all our families so we can focus on the important job of providing all our pupils with the best education and support."