Overwhelming support for special school expansion

Baytree School at Locking Campus. Picture: MARK ATHERTON

Baytree School at Locking Campus. Picture: MARK ATHERTON - Credit: Archant

A special school has received overwhelming support for its expansion ambitions, during a five-week consultation.

Baytree School, in Weston, is desperately in need of more space to cope with the growing demand for children with special educational needs.

More: Special school 'bursting at seams' due to high demand for spaces.

Brookfield Walk, in Clevedon, has been identified as a possible location for a new school, however the site has proved controversial.

North Somerset Council invited people to comment on the plans during a consultation in September last year.

Of the 428 responses received, 96 per cent were in favour of creating the extra places and 90 per cent said they supported proposals to expand into a purpose-built school in a second site.

One respondent said: "(The school expansion) is fundamentally needed in the interests of fairness and equality and education.

"These children desperately need - and are entitled to have - the same opportunities and resources to meet their needs that every other child in North Somerset enjoys."

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The majority of people against the plans said they were in favour of providing additional special needs school places, but wanted another location to be used.

Concerns were raised about the loss of greenbelt land, public open spaces and community facilities.

In September last year, Clevedon Town Council agreed to support campaigners who are seeking town green status for the land, to prevent the school from being built.

More: Campaigners' fight to protect land earmarked for school win support.

If it is approved, the £13.5million school would be open by September 2021.

Councillor Catherine Gibbons, North Somerset Council's executive member for children's services and lifelong learning, said: "We urgently need to increase the number of education places for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities.

"The proposals outlined in this consultation were very carefully considered to make sure the best possible options were put forward for public discussion and the proposed site was chosen from a shortlist of other sites.

"It is fantastic to see such overwhelming support from the majority of people who took the time to respond."

North Somerset Council is expected to apply for planning permission shortly.