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Backing for special needs schools link

PUBLISHED: 11:15 02 September 2008 | UPDATED: 21:10 05 July 2010

The idea to merge Lowestoft's two special needs schools to create a centre of excellence has been given backing.

Responses to a questionnaire sent out by Suffolk County Council support the plan to combine the Ashley School and The Warren School into a new special needs "hub".

The idea to merge Lowestoft's two special needs schools to create a centre of excellence has been given backing.

Responses to a questionnaire sent out by Suffolk County Council support the plan to combine the Ashley School and The Warren School into a new special needs “hub”.

This would take the form of a 250-pupil centre for children aged 5-16 (later taking in pupils from age three), possibly at the Denes High School site on Yarmouth Road, where The Ashley School is currently located.

As well as teaching children with the most complex needs, the hub would provide support in other areas, such as health and social care. Smaller specialist centres would be based at some mainstream schools.

The questionnaires formed part of a consultation on special educational needs in Suffolk and were sent to staff and governors at the nine special needs schools, mainstream schools, county councillors, unions and PCTs .

Asked if the two schools should be combined, 31pc of respondents agreed or strongly agreed, 16pc disagreed, and 53pc did not know.

Asked if it should be located on Ashley's current site, 23pc agreed or strongly agreed, 8 pc disagreed and 69pc did not know.

A spokesman for the council said the high number of “don't know” answers were likely to be from respondents from other parts of Suffolk who were not familiar with Lowestoft.

He said that it is not known when government funding under the Building Schools for the Future programme would be available to enable the merger to go ahead, although it would not be before 2013.

The council's cabinet is due to meet today when it will be asked to agree on the next step of consultations.

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