Review of children’s service is ‘worrying’

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Latest news from the Suffolk Free Press, suffolkfreepress.co.uk, @sfpsudbury on Twitter

Specialist support centres in schools across the county, including St Gregory Primary School in Sudbury, are facing review.

The service – currently operating in seven mainstream primary schools – offers tailored support for children with complex and moderate learning difficulties.

News of the review by Suffolk County Council has sparked concern among parents and led to an online petition, which has so far gained 3,000 signatures.

According to a council paper, the authority proposes to decommission the work of existing specialist support centres to redeploy the £1.4million of annual investment into additional or new services.

The planned changes are due to “under occupancy” of the service, which is costing the council up to £250,000 a year.

Lesley Ford-Platt, chairman of St Gregory’s board of governors, described the proposal as “worrying”.

She said the centre, which is full to capacity, provides a vital service and one-to-one tuition for each child depending on their needs.

“At St Gregory, they provide an education that is second to none for those children,” she said.

“Each individual child is what matters here. I care not about the money the council will save.”

A month-long consultation into the future of the service and the council’s proposed options will begin on Monday.

A county council spokesman said the review is a process the authority is duty bound to undertake and assured parents that the council aims to extend the specialist support available, rather than reduce it.

He added: “The provision that is being proposed will require changes to some local services in order to reconfigure, adapt and/or redeploy provision to be able to meet the changing profile of needs of local children and young people with additional needs.”