Kesgrave family vows to fight Suffolk County Council’s proposed closure of centres for children with additional needs

Mark Beech, the father of Amy who has autism and granddad to Fay, five, who has learning difficultie

Mark Beech, the father of Amy who has autism and granddad to Fay, five, who has learning difficulties, is concerned that centres for kids like Fay might close. - Credit: Su Anderson

A granddad has called on Suffolk County Council to rethink proposals which could see eight school centres for pupils with additional needs close.

Gorseland Primary School, in Ipswich, where Mr Beech would like Fay to go to

Gorseland Primary School, in Ipswich, where Mr Beech would like Fay to go to - Credit: Archant

Mark Beech, 56, from Kesgrave, is angry the council is considering the future of the specialist support centres.

Council officials say the service, which costs £1.4million a year to run, is under used. But parents insist they have a vital role in supporting children with conditions like autism.

Mr Beech looks after his five-year-old granddaughter Fay who has learning difficulties and goes to Heath Primary School in Kesgrave. But Mr Beech and his wife Sharon, 60, want her to go to the centre at Gorseland Primary School in Martlesham Heath from September. Mr Beech’s daughter, Amy, also has learning difficulties.

“Why are they taking away education for children with disabilities?” Mr Beech said. “The council does not understand, they need to live our lives and see what it’s like now and in the future.

“The staff at Fay’s school work very hard and I can only praise them for helping her but Gorseland offers so much to help a child’s development.”

The council has said closure is only one of four options being considered and instead of there being a cut to education funding for children there will be an increase.

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Officials say £250,000 would be saved if the centres, which work with more than 100 children, were cut and an alternative education service is provided. A council spokesman said: “This is about improving services and provision to provide more efficient support for those with additional needs.”

More than 3,400 people have signed a petition calling for the closure plans to be dropped.