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Council 'bullied' into helping set up free school
3:18pm Wednesday 16th May 2012 in News
WARRINGTON Borough Council has accused the Government of deliberately threatening special needs education in the town.
Town Hall bosses have hit out at what they see as bullying by the Department for Education to push through a free school in Woolston.
Clr Colin Froggatt, executive board member for children and young people’s services, said: “The Department for Education are threatening the Council’s long term plans for much needed extended provision for special educational needs children in order to pursue their own ideology.
“They have replaced constructive analysis by bullying the Council and leading the local population up the garden path.”
The row centres on Kings School Woolston, a parent-led free school looking to open in September under the control of super head Sir Iain Hall.
Officials at the Dfe have earmarked the current site at Woolston High School as a possible location.
However, the council intends to move children from Green Lane Special School and Foxwood Special School into the school.
In order to ensure the school opens on time the Dfe has requested the use of the empty infant building at Bruche Primary School as a stop gap.
It has also asked for planning permission to be approved to allow building on the sports fields next to Woolston High School on Hillock Lane.
But if that is turned down the Government’s education department will ‘reserve the right to actively pursue the the use of the powers’ to secure the Woolston High School site.
“This could put at risk the ability to respond appropriately to the needs of some of the most vulnerable children in Warrington,” added Clr Froggatt.
A Dfe spokesman said: “We have had a number of meetings with the local authority and we are in discussion with them about possible temporary and permanent sites for the free school. We expect a decision from them shortly.
“This proposal has been driven by demand from local parents. Like all free schools its aim is to increase choice and raise standards.”