Vulnerable students devastated as school shuts base

Rose Bridge Academy has made some big changes over the summer holidays
Rose Bridge Academy has made some big changes over the summer holidays
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A Wigan mum has spoken of her heartache after her son’s high school closed its special needs centre with no notice.

Special educational needs (SEN) students at Rose Bridge Academy were “devastated” to be moved into mainstream classes last week, after school bosses closed the Small Learning Centre (SLC) during the summer break.

Louise Westhead’s 13-year-old son, Harvey, has autism. When he started at Rose Bridge Academy two years ago, Louise decided to move “well-behaved” Harvey so he would have a calm and relaxing learning environment with specialist teachers who would guide him and his classmates through to Year 11 and GCSEs.

When Harvey returned home from Rose Bridge on the first day of term last week, Louise was shocked to hear that he had been put back into full-sized classes with regular subject teachers.

The school has just announced that it will be taken over by The Dean Trust, which also runs the former Abraham Guest Academy in Orrell.

“I dropped him off with his friends - they were all happy,” she said.

“But when he got home from school that night he was in floods of tears and was absolutely heartbroken.

“The SLC children had got to form that morning and the teachers had to break the news that the centre didn’t exist anymore.

“They were told that they could go to the room at lunch and break time but that during lessons they would have to go into mainstream school.

“On top of that they were all split up. If there were any children from the SLC in the same class the teachers hadn’t even seated them together, not even to try and ease them in.”

Louise said that rumours that SLC would be closed had circulated before the holiday, but that her mind was put at ease by the former head of the learning centre, Chris Clothier.

Louise said: “Chris Clothier had been told that the centre would continue and that the school would honour the places of the children already in it, but that they wouldn’t be taking any more children on.

“I believed her, but she has left the school over the holidays.

“I rang the school straight away.

“I was really angry, not just that I had been misled but that this had happened over the school holidays and no one had thought to contact me.

“They hadn’t notified any of the parents whose children were in the SLC, we hadn’t even been consulted.”

Both The Dean Trust and Community First Academy Trust declined to comment.