Consultation aimed at increasing special school provision
Telford & Wrekin Council is set to carry out an extensive consultation on plans to relocate Haughton Special School from its current site in Madeley to a new site in Wellington.
This is needed because the demand for special school places has increased in the borough in recent years.
The proposed relocation has become possible following the government's approval of Telford College on 20 December 2017 - formalising a merger between Telford College of Arts and Technology and New College Telford.
The merger means the current New College site will become available and – subject to consultation – the council is planning to buy the site and relocate Haughton School there.
Telford & Wrekin Council’s cabinet approved a proposal to go to full consultation on the plans when it met earlier this month.
The move would provide additional special school places in the borough, enabling the council’s educational estate to meet demand.
The current Haughton Special School site would be either reused or sold – partially offsetting the additional investment required for relocation.
The proposed purchase of New College, redevelopment of the site and relocation of Haughton Special School would be funded by £2.45m from the Department for Education’s Basic Need Grant Allocation which is confirmed in the 2018/2019 Capital Programme.
The New College site has capacity for 110 pupils but the current HaughtonSpecial School site is currently attended by 132. Additional capacity is provided by temporary use of a building on the Captain Webb Primary School site.
However, it is projected that numbers at Haughton could increase to 156 by 2021.
If the council proceeds with the purchase of the New College site, the outline plan would include:
•Relocation of Haughton Special School to the New College site including four additional class bases to house additional pupils.
•An additional unit to be used as future provision – potentially a primary aged social emotional and mental health special school
•A further additional unit to house further SEND provision to increase capacity for Early Years to meet increased need
•Subject to planning, the original Victorian part of the site could be surplus to requirements and could therefore be sold for housing
Councillor Lee Carter, Telford & Wrekin Council’s cabinet member for Finance, Commercial Services and Economic Development, said: “The New College site is a suitable alternative for Haughton School and will provide the children with superior and modern accommodation – as well as allowing us the opportunity to expand the facility in the future if required.
“However we are going to carry out a thorough consultation with everybody affected at Haughton School including staff, parents and trade union representatives and this will run until 12 March – with findings reported to counciillors on 5 April.
“We do have plans to expand Haughton School on its existing site but, as well as costing £1.8m, these plans would take the school to the limit of its capacity and no further expansion would be possible.
“Therefore purchasing the New College site and relocating Haughton School there offers us a far more sustainable solution and increases our special school provision in response to the anticipated continued growth in demand.
"The reconfiguration of the site will also provide opportunities for the local community including access to off road parking which is at a premium in the vicinity. As part of the plans, the iconic old high school part of the building will also be retained."
Paul Hinkins, chair of governors at Telford College, said: "Our plan is to keep the two existing campuses - in Haybridge Road and King Street - open and operational as normal until the end of the current academic year.
"From September 2018, students and staff from King Street will relocate to Haybridge campus where we are planning further investment into the site with our UK-first 7th Form for A Level students.
"The proposed sale of the New College site to the local authority is a good opportunity for it to continue serving the needs of students and the local community."
Comments can also be sent to: School Organisation Services, Telford and Wrekin Council, 6b Darby House, Lawn Central, Telford, TF3 4JA
The closing date for comments is: 23 February.