Special needs unit may close

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A SCHOOL has come under fire for proposing to axe its special needs department – because it costs too much.

Children at New Bradwell School were sent home with a letter before half term explaining the decision of its governing body.

It listed the governors’ reasons and the first was the impact on the school budget in supporting the growing number of children with “complex needs”.

The letter also stated: “There is an increasing number of incidents where the children from the department have become aggressive towards staff. This has lead to an increased amount of staff sickness.”

It continued: “Having the department at the school has attracted other SEN children from outside the school’s catchment area to apply. This is having an increased impact on the school.”

The governors also accuse the department of taking up so much staff time that it has affects the other children within the school.

The impact on the overall attainment of the school ... is evident when there are departmental children in the year group,” the letter states.

This prompted a furious reaction from some parents.

“I was utterly disgusted by the disciminative tone of the letter...I was extremely angry and fairly certain some of the points were incorrect and very misleading,” said one.

“I really believe that a school which has had a department for over 25 years is trying quietly to close a provision and blame it on the children with special needs, not the staff and their abilities,” she added.

Head teacher Phil Webster took advice from the council before announcing the proposal.

He has promised a consultation period before any final decision is made.

Already he has invited parents to drop-in sessions last week to discuss any worries.

The school has also pledged to continue to support all the current special needs children, many of whom have Austistic Spectrum disorders, until they reach year six.

Some parents agree the unit should be closed but are unhappy at the tone of the letter sent home with their children.

“I believe it is discrimination and should be taken very seriously. I intend to notify Ofsted and the NAS,” said one.