Council study explores option of creating complex needs school after primary closes

PUBLISHED: 14:23 30 December 2017 | UPDATED: 14:23 30 December 2017

Alderman Swindell School.

Alderman Swindell School. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2017

A council study has explored the possibility of creating a complex needs school on the site of a primary which is due to close, documents show.

Alderman Swindell Primary School in Great Yarmouth.
Beresford Road entrance.
September 2015.

Picture: James BassAlderman Swindell Primary School in Great Yarmouth. Beresford Road entrance. September 2015. Picture: James Bass

Under Norfolk County Council plans, Alderman Swindell Primary, on Beresford Road in Great Yarmouth, will shut and merge with nearby North Denes Primary on its Jellicoe Road site.

The project has proved divisive - while the new multi-million pound building which will house the newly-combined school has been welcomed, the plans sparked protest and a legal challenge from the Alderman community.

Speculation had been rife about what would happen to the current Alderman site when it became vacant.

And legal documents relating to the merger reveal that enquiries have been made into the possibility of providing a 100-place school for children with social, emotional and mental health difficulties (SEMH). 
The report said: “On 6 November 2017, the council instructed Norse Property Services to carry out a desk top feasibility site for the Alderman Swindell site, based on the site information already known from the high-level capital programme.

MORE: Plans to close Great Yarmouth primary and merge it with another will go ahead

“The remit is to explore 100 places SEMH school based on the draft SEN Sufficiency Strategy.”

It was announced that the merger would go ahead on October 20.

A desktop feasibility study usually sees a body analyse whether a possible project would likely be a success.

But when asked for more detail - and what the study had unearthed - the council said they were not able to comment while the legal challenge was underway.

Campaigners fighting the closure managed to crowd fund more than £4,500 to mount their legal fight against the closure.

The plans, which were announced in May, have even left the schools’ two headteachers on opposing sides - North Denes’ Debbie Whiting has described it as a “wonderful opportunity”, while Alderman’s Alison Hopley pledged to fight the move.

But the possibility of a new complex needs school in Norfolk has been welcomed by many, including county councillor for the area Mick Castle.

Rising demand has seen pressure for special school places severely outweigh supply.

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