Special Education School in Oxford to Shut sending pupils to other Counties

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Northfield School in Blackbird Leys is a school, which caters for boys with social, emotional and mental health difficulties, has been deemed 'unfit for purpose' because of its dilapidated state.

The Oxford Mail reports Lucy Butler, the director of children's services, is recommending councillors decide to open an consultation on the school's future with closure or continuing to operate in a piecemeal fashion the only options being considered.

The school's main building has been closed since Easter with half of its 71 pupils being taught at the Hill End Centre in Farmoor and the others making do with portacabins.

If the school does close, pupils would be sent to other special schools, likely to be outside of the county, or in 'private settings.'  

The council has predicted that closing the school would cost it an extra £1.2million a year, almost doubling the amount of money it spends on providing the pupils' education.

In contrast, keeping it open would cost an extra £97,000 a year.

A suggested timetable would see the six week consultation start in June with a final decision in September and the school shut by the end of the year.

The figures alone make it hard to understand why the council would not just fix the problems in the school.  Especially as these are vulnerable children with Special Needs who rely on stability and predictability.  To ask them to travel miles outside of the county to attend school, reducing the number of places for residents in Oxfordshire and the counties where the children will be sent to when there are already far too few SEN spaces in our county astonishes the community.  

We want the County Council to fix all the issues with this school to continue to let the current students attend and to look at creating more establishment's both dedicated schools like Woodeaten Manor and mainstream school bases like Fitzharries school to support SEN children.  This will benefit children with SEN and the children without SEN who are currently all struggling to get their needs met.