Move to end wait for places at King’s Lynn school

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Children will not have to wait as long for a place at a special school which is looking to increase its pupil numbers.

Officials at the Churchill Parkschool say there have been cases where a child has had to wait a term to get a place as the school was full.

The school has applied to Norfolk County Council to increase the registered pupil numbers from 150 to 205. The school currently has 175 pupils on its books.

Members of the county council’s children services committee on Tuesday supported the school’s application, though but the final decision lies with the department’s director.

Headteacher Paul Donkersloot said: “Some children whose needs are complex are having to wait longer than they should have to get their entitlement. That was my biggest concern.

“I show parents around the school every week and I have to start off by saying that there won’t be any places available until September, which is a desperate thing to say.

“The county council recognises the importance of school like Churchill Park. We appreciate their support.”

The school was established in 2009 after the amalgamation of Alderman Jackson and Ethel Tipple Schools. It was then registered to take 151 pupils.

Churchill Park caters for children aged between two and 19 with a range of physical disabilities and learning difficulties.

Services offered at the Winston Churchill Drive site include physical therapy and occupational therapy along with excellent IT facilities and speech support.

The school has an emphasis on independence and life after school.

It has a wide catchment area ranging from Wells down to Brandon along the Cambridgeshire border to The Wash.

More children are needing Churchill Park’s services thanks to better diagnosis and improvements in medical science.

The application to increase pupil numbers was submitted after concerns were raised last year about the number of pre-school and primary aged pupils who need specialist provision being educated in mainstream schools. Some youngsters have also had to be placed on out of county placements.

Mr Donkersloot said: “Colleagues in mainstream schools are doing a fantastic job in supporting these children.

“Youngsters in mainstream schools have been waiting longer than a term, sometimes it is a year or longer.

“The gap between a young person with significant or complex needs and a particular age group gets bigger year on year.

“The children make progress but at a slower rate.”

The application to increase provision was made after a public meeting and a statutory notice to increase provision was published in February.

The school will not be increasing its buildings as a result of the application.

Mr Donkersloot joined the school in September. He has taught at special schools around the country, including south Norfolk, Lincolnshire, Humberside and north Wales.

He said: “Churchill Park is a great place and I’m really enjoying it.

“The staff are brilliant and we have a lot of support from parents.”