Wigan special school on the move

A Wigan special school could be on the move as part of ambitious council plans to transform education for pupils with additional needs.
Hope SchoolHope School
Hope School

The local authority has launched a consultation on a comprehensive redevelopment of how pupils with special educational needs (SEN) are taught locally.

It starts with a proposal to move Hope School from its current location to the old Pembec and Central Park site on Montrose Avenue, where a completely new school would be built.

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Virtually every other special school in the borough would then either move or be almost totally rebuilt.

The would take place over over the next five to 10 years, the council consultation suggests.

Only Newbridge Learning Community School in Platt Bridge stands to be unchanged, with every other facility requiring major and dramatic alterations due to a lack of places for all the children needing to go there.

This follows informal consultation on the future of special education in Wigan and Leigh last spring.

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The council says the clear outcome of this was the view that the borough’s high-quality specialist school network should be maintained and strengthened, rather than looking at options such as trying to integrate more pupils into mainstream education.

The consultation document reads: “We wish to embrace this opportunity to ensurewe address suitability, condition and capacity issues.

“Through this we will ensure we have appropriate, fit-for-pupose provision to meet the needs of our children.

“There is overwhelming support that we should retain our current special schools acknowledging that there was a need to provide up-to-date facilities so that our children are taught in modern and appropriately-resourced schools.”

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The consultation says the plans for Hope School would be brought forward within two years due to it being too small and having issues with the condition of the buildings.

Over the next two to five years the council will then look at rebuilding Rowan Tree Primary School or moving it to a new site in Leigh as well as rebuilding or moving Landgate School in Bryn.

There is enough land at the Atherton site for new construction while teaching continues in the existing buildings, the council says.

The local authority also plans minor improvements at Landgate.

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In the five-to-10-year bracket the town hall is looking at the same choice of reconstruction or relocation at Willow Grove Primary School and a large extension to Oakfield High School in Hindley.

Willow Grove could also still be used while new buildings are put up but the council is also looking into more provision in Leigh.

This could be on the same land identified for Rowan Tree but would be a separate institution under Willow Grove’s leadership.

Other temporary measures are also being looked at as demand for special school places is so high in Leigh, but the consultation does not specifically say what these are.

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Students at Oakfield may have to be moved offsite in the short term to meet demand, the document warns.

The council also wants to review its outreach and resource provision after last March and April’s consultation resulted in “mixed” responses to these services.

The town hall stresses these are all currently proposals only and a financial strategy to support this level of investment in buildings over the next decade will be needed.

However, if cash becomes available sooner for these projects the timetable could be accelerated.

The consultation is open now and runs until Friday March 1.

To read the full document and find out how to respond click here