Council steps in to provide urgently needed specialist education

school children

Posted on: 24 September 2015

Devon County Council is reopening its Springfield Day Centre building, Chanters Road, Bideford, to make provision for up to 10 children with special educational needs, after their former school in Barnstaple de-registered just as the new term was due to start this month.

Chelfham Mill had provided education to boys, aged 7 to 18, with special educational needs.  Its decision to de-register meant that Devon County Council urgently needed to find suitable alternative educational places for the children that had attended the school.  But because there is a shortage of specialist places in North Devon, new educational provision has had to be created.

A spokesman for Devon County Council said:

“We have a statutory and legal duty to ensure that these children can receive an education.  We’ve decided therefore to set up special provision during the day for no more than 10 children at our Springfield Day Centre building.  The children that will attend Springfield are all from local families, and it means that they can receive an education within easy reach of their homes.”

The Council has needed to make urgent improvements to the building, to make it suitable for educational use.  That includes a requirement for fencing, which is common to all schools and educational settings, to secure the health and safety of the children.

In a jointly signed letter to local residents, the Council’s Head of Education and Learning, Sue Clarke, and Cabinet Member for Children, Schools and Skills, Cllr James McInnes, said:  

“I am aware that there have been rumours that the building is to be used for young offenders.  I can assure you that this is not the case.  Springfield has been set up for children with special needs who require specialist educational placements.

“These have been exceptional circumstances and we have had to put the needs and education of these few children first.

“That has meant that we have had to respond as a matter of urgency, and so doing have not been able to keep the local community informed as soon as we would have liked.  I hope that you understand our good intentions.”

Posted in: Education