Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

School Saved from Merger; Special Needs Pupils Would Have Suffered

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

School Saved from Merger; Special Needs Pupils Would Have Suffered

Article excerpt

Byline: Neil McKay

EDUCATION bosses have shelved plans to close a popular secondary school following fears that special needs children could suffer.

Plans to merge Tanfield School in Stanley, County Durham, with schools at Greencroft and Stanley will not now go ahead. Instead Durham County Council proposes to merge Greencroft Business and Enterprise Community School at Annfield Plain and Stanley School of Technology to form one of three new academies - leaving Tanfield alone.

The u-turn follows a submission by special needs headteacher that plans to create a new academy would leave her 101 pupils in "education isolation." Education bosses also admitted they thought that a significant number of parents of Tanfield pupils would seek places in schools in neighbouring Gateshead if Tanfield was to close.

Maggie Collins, head of Hare Law school in Annfield Plain, near Stanley, said she feared her pupils, who have either moderate or severe learning difficulties and, in some cases autistic spectrum disorders, would be excluded from attending the new academy in Stanley, She said: "Hare Law is a member of the Tanfield cluster of schools. Pupils move between main and special (schools) according to their individual needs.

"Should there be an academy replacing secondary provision presently accessible at Tanfield, Greencroft and Stanley, it would be unlikely that such a partnership which thrives within the Tanfield cluster could be replicated with such a large establishment.

Claire Vasey, Cabinet member for children and young people's services at Durham County Council, told The Journal that education bosses had listened to Mrs Collins' fears.

"We took on board what she said, which shows we didn't just pay lip service when we said we would put these proposals out to consultation.

"The recommendation to Cabinet will be that Greencroft and Stanley School of Technology be amalgamated into one academy to be sponsored by New College Durham and Durham County Council, leaving Tanfield alone. …

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