Governors say no to Leeds school move

School leaders in Leeds have opposed plans to relocate a centre for pupils with special needs.

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Education Leeds proposed moving the West Specialist Inclusive Learning Centre (SILC) from Farnley Park Maths and Computing College to Bruntcliffe High School, Morley, while building work goes ahead at Farnley.

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But at a public meeting governors told parents they unanimously opposed the plan.

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Governor Robert Finnigan, who is also a ward councillor, said they had urged Education Leeds to rethink the idea during the public consultation, which ended on Friday.

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Coun Finnigan added: "Education Leeds seem to have said it was the way that was easiest to do physically, not the way that was the best for everybody – Bruntcliffe or the SILC – but the easiest, logistically speaking, and I don't think that is a good enough argument."

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Under the plans, the SILC, for two to 19-year-olds with complex special educational needs, would be moved to Bruntcliffe during the summer holiday and remain there until 2012.

Education Leeds has said the 1m move would minimise disruption by keeping all the children in the unit together.

But Coun Finnigan said parents, teachers and governors were more concerned about the disruption to Bruntcliffe pupils.

The school has made huge improvements since it was told to raise standards or potentially face closure in 2007 and he said they were reluctant to accept any change that could distract students from their continuing improvement.

He said the school had already made plans to use the land where the SILC would go and other concerns included traffic on Bruntcliffe Lane, and the possibility of the SILC students sharing Bruntcliffe's dining facilities, again expected to disrupt the school and its pupils.

He said some parents believed the move was already a "done deal" and added: "People didn't feel that their concerns were taken into account."

Chris Edwards, chief executive of Education Leeds, said: "The consultation allows us to listen to all opinions which will be gathered and presented to the council's executive board to make a final decision.

"The proposals we are consulting on were developed last year after the BSF facilities at Farnley Park were unveiled and required us to move the SILC provision.

"We recognise and understand the school's governing body's concerns which we will include in the submission to the executive board."

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