Special needs schools merger bid

TWO special needs schools in Ipswich are set to merge and move to a new site as part of county bid to improve education, it can be revealed today.

TWO special needs schools in Ipswich are set to merge and move to a new site as part of county bid to improve education, it can be revealed today.

Belstead School, in Sprites Lane, Ipswich, currently caters for special needs students aged from 11-19 while Heathside School, in Heath Road, takes on pupils between the ages of three and 11.

As part of an attempt to gain funding for new state-of-the-art facilities, the two schools will merge into one school under the same name, while still retaining separate sites, for the next four and a half years.

By this time county bosses hope to have funding in place for a new special needs school on the site of Westbourne Sports College in Marlow Road, Ipswich.

Ian Brown, Head of Schools Infrastructure at Suffolk County Council, said the move to merge the schools would allow for funding for the new building to come from government's building schools for the future programme.

He said: “These are really good news proposals.

Most Read

“We plan to combine Belstead and Heathside schools from September 2010 and to create a single school that will operate initially on those two existing sites.

“We are estimating we will have a brand new school located alongside Westbourne by 2013.”

Belstead School opened in 1966 and Heathside in 1978 although the buildings themselves are older.

Belstead School currently caters for up to 80 pupils and Heathside in the region of 75, although the capacity of the new school buildings on the Westbourne site will be around 110.

This is because around 40 students in the 16-19 age range will be catered for by the new SWISS centre once it is up and running.

It is unclear how much the new special needs school at the Westbourne site will cost although it will make up part of a �165million package for revamping schools in West Ipswich and Felixstowe.

Mr Brown said: “This will provide a really first class set of buildings for these young people who richly deserve the best accommodation we can give them.”

The proposals are set to be discussed by Suffolk County Council's cabinet on February 5.

n. Does your child attend Belstead or Heathside? What do you make of the proposals? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter