Schools merger ‘will improve lives’

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A BRAND new special school is to be created after councillors approved the merger of Glenwood and Hillcrest special schools in Dunstable.

When the plans were first approved last year, Weatherfield special school was also included in the merger, but decided to become an academy instead, following consultation with students, staff and parents.

The new school, to be called the Chiltern School, received “broad support” from both Glenwood and Hillcrest, a spokesman for Central Bedfordshire Council said.

Each school will remain on its current site but will share resources and expertise with the other.

Councillor Mark Versallion, responsible for children’s services, said: “Our main aim is to meet the needs and improve the lives of children and young people, particularly those with complex needs.

“This is best achieved when they can go to school close to home and their families can remain involved. The new area special school will offer this.

“We are keen to safeguard and strengthen educational provision in the south of the area.”

Glenwood’s chair of governors, Rupert Groves: “Today’s decision is the realisation of a long-held dream.

“We are excited to be able to launch The Chiltern School as the new area special school in the south of Central Bedfordshire.

“We want The Chiltern School to be at the heart of provision for children with special educational needs, serving our local areas through attendance at school and support for mainstream schools.

“Pupils will benefit from the extension of the range of needs we can meet.

“We are very fortunate to be able to develop specialist provision on both sites, particularly for pupils with sensory and complex learning needs.”

Mr Groves said that parents would be contacted after the Easter break about a series of meetings where updates will be given on the merger.