Eight centres for children with additional needs are saved until at least 2016

Gorseland Primary School, Ipswich.

Gorseland Primary School, Ipswich. - Credit: Archant

Parents are “delighted” after they were told eight support centres for children with additional needs were granted a stay of execution.

The specialist support centres (SSCs), which work alongside mainstream schools in Suffolk, will stay open until at least the end of the 2015/16 academic year.

Parents reacted angrily in January when proposals by Suffolk County Council, which included an option to close the centres, were revealed. Council bosses claim the centres are under-used, and that £250,000 would be saved if they were closed.

But now a letter from the council to parents has been published. It says: “Following consultation relating to the future of SSCs being halted, I am now able to confirm that there will not be any changes to current provision before the end of the 2016 school year.

“It is important that we ensure the available funding is used to support services that are accessible to all young people that need them and have the greatest positive impact possible.

“Therefore we have recognised the importance of taking more time to work through what future specialist provision (including the SSCs) might look like. We will be actively engaging parents and staff in discussions to ensure we have a full range of views before any decisions are taken.”

Last month the council withdrew a consultation over the proposals after parents claimed the authority had supplied “inaccurate” information.

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Joanna Hammond, of Falkenham, near Felixstowe, is mother of Riley, who has autism and global development delay conditions and goes to the centre at Gorseland Primary in Martlesham Heath.

She is one of the parents who started the Save Suffolk Specialist Support Centres group. “After what has been a stressful few months for all concerned, we are delighted that there are going to be no changes to the current SSC provision for at least a year.

“More importantly, we now have the security that parents, carers and teachers will be involved in the discussions relating to any future changes and whilst this should have happened in the first place, we couldn’t be happier with the outcome for the next academic year.”

More than 6,700 people signed the campaign group’s petition against the proposed closures.