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05 February 2019

Headteacher welcomes proposals on special needs schools

A special needs headteacher has welcomed Wiltshire Council proposals to invest £20m to ensure every pupil has access to a first class education in Wiltshire.

Exeter House headteacher Matt Sambrook say the proposals to have two centres of excellence in Wiltshire which would cater for special needs pupils while also working extensively with mainstream schools, resource bases, parents and other professionals offered "incredible opportunities."

He said:"The vision and approach being put forward by the local authority and level of investment being committed is a fantastic step forward. This would enable life changing opportunities, not just for pupils in special schools across the county, but for all pupils in Wiltshire with a designation of special educational needs across all schools and provision types.

"As a centre of excellence we would be able to meet, not only, increasing need and demand for Special Educational provision but also provide comprehensive outreach beyond our setting - working extensively with mainstream schools, resource bases, parents and other professionals. Through this approach we would build a community of understanding and possibility where inclusion is at the forefront of what we do and realise what is possible by providing meaningful and aspirational opportunities for all no matter what your needs."

The proposals are part of a consultation which envisages creating a new centre of excellence at Rowdeford near Devizes. The consultation goes on until 1 March 2019 and people are being encouraged to have their say.

The proposed purpose-built school at Rowdeford would have the latest facilities including hydro-pools, sensory rooms, child friendly spaces for learning and plenty of outdoor open space.

Proposals for the school include attracting excellent teachers and building strong community links with nearby Rowde. There would also be regular access to specialist staff including speech and language therapy, physio and family care.

The investment proposals would also meet the need to create an additional 220 places for future demand.

As part of the proposals the schools at Larkrise, Trowbridge, St Nicholas, Chippenham and Rowdeford would close in 2023 when the proposed new school opens.

Laura Mayes, cabinet member for children's services, said: "These are ambitious proposals but we are ambitious for our children. We want them to attend a great school which provides the facilities and support for them to really thrive. This will secure a great future for our children and young people.  A key part of our vision is extending opportunities to create closer links with SEND schools and neighbouring mainstream schools.

"I want to reassure parents that we want to take them with us every step of the way. I would encourage them to actively participate in the consultations so we can keep discussing these proposals and ensure every child and their family is involved.

Wiltshire Council's cabinet will be meeting this spring to consider the proposals in the light of the responses to the consultation.

People have until 1 March 2019 to comment on the plans. They can respond to the statutory consultation in the following ways:

Last updated: 5 February 2019 | Last reviewed: 5 February 2019

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