Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Closure Would Be a Disaster for Pupils

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Closure Would Be a Disaster for Pupils

Article excerpt

Byline: By Cathy Spencer

Head says some kids couldn't cope

A head has warned closing a pioneering school would be disastrous for hundreds of special needs children.

The news that the Northern Counties School, in Newcastle, could close shocked parents.

Now school head Frances Taylor has said a number of her pupils would not cope in mainstream or special education.

"It was not a shock when I heard governors were going to decide on closing the school in two months time, as it has been on the cards for a while," Mrs Taylor said.

"Financially, the school is sound but, because the Government want as many children as possible to go into mainstream schools, we are getting fewer referrals each year. We have only had three new pupils this year and yet around 10 will be leaving us to go on to specialist colleges, sheltered training or employment.

"In a few years we will not be able to function properly as a school so unless councils make some changes we'll have to close."

Pupils at the school, on the Great North Road, in Jesmond, suffer from cerebral palsy, mobility problems, autism and sensory disabilities, including deafness and blindness. A lot of the children suffer from a combination of these disabilities.

"A lot of our children could manage in mainstream schools or local special schools but a percentage would not be able to cope and that would be detrimental to them mentally, emotionally and socially," said Mrs Taylor.

"We take children from all over the country and one boy flies in every week from Sussex because we can give youngsters the specialist care and attention they need.

"Parents have been hit hard by the news that the school could close next year and have been contacting me this week offering their help.

"They have a battle to get their child to attend Northern Counties School because their councils want them to go to a local special school. …

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