Centre of excellence to expand if Dawlish special schools merge

Posted on: 1 November 2017

Dawlish’s two special educational needs schools are proposing to merge.

They say it will allow them to provide even better opportunities for pupils with special educational needs and increase the number of places for vulnerable children.

Oaklands Park and Ratcliffe Schools currently have capacity for 156 pupils aged from 3 to 19 with a range of communication and interaction difficulties, autistic spectrum conditions and learning difficulties.

They already work together in a federation under Executive Principal, Mark Rose.

But the governors are now consulting on merging them into a single residential special school which could accommodate 190 children with 35 weekly residential places.

Mr Rose said: “We would be pooling resources and expertise so they can be used effectively to best support our pupils within one school with one identity.

“Our federation has already enabled us to share good practice and improve efficiency but we now have an exciting opportunity to build on this and become a centre of excellence for pupils with special educational needs.

“Everyone who currently has residential provision would continue to be able to access a residential placement after the merger.”

The chair of governors, Keith Hodgins, said Devon County Council was reviewing its countywide provision for children with special needs and the consultation would form part of that.

It was the vision of the governors to develop the school site so it could offer the highest quality of education and care and meet the increasing demand for places.

“We want to look at developing and accommodating independence training and developing self-help skills,” he said.

“Our proposed merger will ensure consistency and common processes are in place for the benefit of all our pupils, their families and our staff and stakeholders.”

The consultation on the merger starts today (Nov 1) and runs until December 13. There will be an information session at Oaklands Park on November 16 between 3.30 and 6.30 p.m.

Representatives of the governors will attend with the executive principal and officers from Devon County Council which will make the final decision on the merger.

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