Staff and parents fight to save school

A petition, launched by a Wigan parents' group desperate to save their children's school, has gained the support of around 3,000 people.

The group – parents, teachers and other representatives – started the petition to try and save Montrose Special School from closure as the plan to shut it down enters the final stages of consultation.

The school in Pemberton teaches children aged four to 14 with various disabilities, but faces closure because of falling role numbers.

Gavin Walstenholme, parent governor representative, said: "The closure of Montrose would be devastating for everyone involved and having to move schools would impact hugely on the pupils."

The final decision on the closure, which is provisionally set to go ahead next year, is due to be made on November 19.

The last chance for objectors' views to be heard is on November 12.

The petition was hand-delivered by the parents to Wigan Council's Children, Young People and Families team at Progress House on October 20.

Coun Gareth Fairhurst said: "It is quite clear the hard work that the staff, parents and governors have done is fantastic.

"It is also clear from the support for the petition in such a short time that the public are in support of keeping the school open too.

"The cabinet and council should recognise this and keep the school open."

The petition was signed by the general public as well as a number of local councillors.

More than 2,000 of the signatures were collected via a campaign group set up on the social networking site Facebook.

Mr Walstenholme said: "The amount of support that has been received for this campaign is fantastic, and it shows the true feelings of everyone connected with the school as well as the community as a whole."

He added: "It is now my job to represent the parents at the Council's Children, Young People and Families Scrutiny Committee meeting on November 12. I hope councillors of all parties and the ruling cabinet will take note of the massive support for this school and what impact their decisions have on children and their families."

The school was put into special measures after a damning Ofsted report in 2008, but staff have worked hard to rectify the problems since then and were recently given a 'Good' grade by Ofsted.

Susan Loudon, the council's cabinet champion for children and young people, said: "We are very aware this is a highly sensitive issue and we, like parents and staff, want the best provision for the young people who attend Montrose School.

"We will not be taking any decisions lightly or without weighing up all the alternatives."

Coun Loudon added: "Members of the cabinet and officers are still considering all the comments and suggestions received throughout the consultation."