Fresh hope for threatened school

By Annie DavidsonPARENTS of pupils at a special needs school threatened with closure were celebrating last night after being given fresh hope of keeping it open.

By Annie Davidson

PARENTS of pupils at a special needs school threatened with closure were celebrating last night after being given fresh hope of keeping it open.

Essex County Council decided to close The Leas School in Clacton, a move that was fiercely opposed by parents.

The Government-established School Organisation Committee met yesterday to discuss the future of the school, which caters for children with moderate special needs.

It could have rubber-stamped the plan to close the school or voted to keep the school open.

However, the committee failed to reach a unanimous decision and the final ruling will now be made by an independent adjudicator.

Most Read

The School Organisation Committee is made up of representatives from five different groups, including Essex Learning and Skills Council and governors from schools in the county.

The adjudicator, who is appointed by the Department for Education and Skills, will make a decision in about three months' time after reviewing paperwork and possibly meeting with parents and other interested parties.

A spokeswoman for Essex County Council said four out of five of the groups on the committee had voted for a referral on the basis of inadequate consultation and information for parents.

The county council had planned to close The Leas School in July next year, with its pupils going to either The Windsor special school in Clacton for children with severe special needs or into mainstream education.

Concerned parents formed the Hands Off The Leas School action group and gathered a 5,000-signature petition, while more than 130 letters of protest were also sent to the county council.

The parents were not allowed into yesterday's meeting, but were told of the decision afterwards.

Action group chairman, Paul Honeywood, said the parents were “very pleased.”

He added: “This proves our concerns were founded. We now have time to carry on with our campaign. We will be meeting to decide the next step.”

annie.davidson@eadt.co.uk

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter