Resource base saved after community protest
Parents, children and staff marched through driving rain in support of Emersons Green Resource Base
PLANS to shut a specialist centre which enables disabled children to learn alongside mainstream pupils at Emersons Green Primary School have been shelved.
The resource base caters for 12 children, aged from 4 to 11, with physical disabilities or visual impairment, giving them extra support and facilities while they have lessons and play with other children.
South Gloucestershire Council is holding a review into special needs and disabilities education by the council, which suggested that the resource base be "phased out" after its current pupils left.
Parents were outraged at the prospect of closing the resource base and staged protests, with a petition calling for the resource base to be saved signed by 6,218 people.
They also marched through driving rain to a consultation meeting in September and wrote to the council arguing their case.
On November 6 the council's cabinet member for schools, skills and employment, Erica Williams, issued a statement which said the closure of the resource base would no longer be included in the SEND strategy proposals.
A council spokesperson confirmed to the Voice that this means the resource base will stay open for the foreseeable future.
Cllr Williams said the review had been started to "improve access and to focus on broadening inclusion within all children’s local schools".
She said: “Although the feedback we received was supportive of changes to increase the number of places across the district, it is clear that we also need to give further consideration to any phasing out of the Resource Base at Emersons Green Primary School. As a result, we will not be including this change in the proposals that will be taken forward to formal public consultation.
"We will be working in partnership with all schools to develop a sustainable approach to meeting children and young people’s needs in order to improve access and ensure equity in our arrangements to meeting need across the local area."
A statement on behalf of the school community, including parents and staff, said: "We were extremely concerned that the proposal had not been properly thought through nor had it been subject to any reasonable degree of scrutiny. In asking our detailed questions it would seem that the council has agreed the proposal is either wrong or not ready.
"We are so grateful for the efforts of so many and for the wide support the campaign to challenge the recommendation received.
"This was an excellent example of the community coming together to protect the needs and interests of the most vulnerable."
Emersons Green town councillor Matt Palmer started the petition to save the resource base.
He said: "This resource base is an actual text book example and there were always massive questions raised as to why the council would want to dismantle that. The support that’s come from everywhere has shown how much people care and value resource bases as a whole, and how in Emersons Green and the surrounding area, there is such a strong community spirit to be proud of - people came together so quickly.
"What is concerning is that the statement released did not mention the other resource bases in South Glos and how they were going to proceed with these.”