Wiltshire councillors agree special school plans

Parents and campaigners outside cabinet meeting
Image caption Parents opposed to the decision are seeking legal advice

Councillors have approved plans to replace three special schools in Chippenham, Trowbridge and Rowde with a much larger specialist school.

Wiltshire Council said it planned to have a medical centre with paediatric nurses at the new school.

But campaigner and parent Melissa Loveday said the council were "patronising" and no-one will be able to walk to the new location.

The new school will open on the Rowde site in 2023.

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

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

A new management team will take over all three schools by September 2021, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.

Ms Loveday said: "We feel patronised the council has rehashed their one school proposal.

"40% of children can walk to school from Larkrise and no one could walk to Rowde.

"The petitions signed by 7,500 people each is staggering evidence of the feeling of the public keeping the school in their communities and has been ignored. This key omission demonstrates key bias."

However, councillor Bridget Wayman said: "We are not looking to institutionalise them, sticking them out into the sticks, that is really not what we want to do.

"We want to offer the best safe spaces and this is best achieved campus of small classrooms."

Cabinet member for children Laura Mayes said their priority remained with every child with special educational needs "for now and in the future".

She said: "I'm proud to say we are investing in a new facility."

The decision will now go to the Secretary of State for Education for approval.

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