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(UK) Fenland: "Much-needed special school" planned; 210 places

Sept 2, 2023, Fenland Citizen: Special school is great news, but let’s hope they have planned ahead – and then there was that kiss, surely Rubiales should be setting an example https://www.fenlandcitizen.co.uk/news/opinion-special-school-is-great-news-but-let-s-hope-they-h-9328650/

E. England


OP ED

Fenland, and in particular March, is finally going to get a much-needed special needs school.

Meadowgate Academy in Wisbech is a brilliant place for our children, who have learning and physical disabilities to attend. But it can only take so many and is almost always at capacity.

There has been a hard push for the powers that be to recognise the need for a new special needs school, and it appears they have finally listened.
The Government has given the greenlight to Cambridgeshire County Council to build a new 210 place multiple needs school in March and with any luck it will be opening its doors for the first time in September 2026.

But that is still two years away and in the meantime children, who really need to attend such a facility, are missing out on the extra support they need as they are forced to attend mainstream schools.

There is nothing wrong with our mainstream schools but if your child has specific needs they are not always able to offer that type of support or care.

The alternative, and it really does depend on whether there are spaces available, is for our Fenland children to be bussed off to schools much further afield – in some cases as far as St Neots to attend a special school.

And that can mean children as young as four or five being either put on a bus or in a taxi for an hour’s drive to and from school. How can that be right?...

A neuro-typical child of four or five is going to struggle to go off on a bus on their own to school let alone one who has autism or some other neuro-divergent need.

Let’s not forget either that an hour long journey to school means an hour long journey home again – that’s adding an unnecessary two hours to a young child’s day and that has got to be tiring.

For older children who have homework to do it makes their day harder too.

Why Fenland, when it has a higher than average number of special needs children, has only one special school is a mystery.

But it probably boils down to the age-old problem we seem to have with our esteemed leaders – and that is short-sightedness.

Surely, when Meadowgate was being built, someone might have thought maybe we should be doing this in our other market towns too.

Clearly not, because once again we are playing catch-up with the facilities we need in our area, and that is not good when it is our children and young people who are suffering.

So roll on 2026 and let’s just hope they have had the foresight to factor in future demand when deciding on the number of places the new school will have, otherwise we could wind up in the same position we’re in now.

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