THE future of a troubled special needs school is in doubt.
Essex County Council has launched a public consultation into Ramsden Hall School, which operates across a site in Heath Road, Ramsden Heath, and one in Langham, near Colchester.
Education bosses want to split the campuses into two separate schools, with the Langham site set to become an academy, which would be financed by a sponsor.
The Ramsden Heath site, near Billericay, would remain a community special needs school under Essex County Council control.
County Hall wants the radical shake-up because the Ramsden Heath campus is failing, and weaker than its “stronger”
north Essex site, due to alleged poor teaching and bad behaviour of pupils, who disrupt classmates.
The school was put into special measures in March after Ofsted inspectors found it was “inadequate” in all areas – with most of the problems blamed on the south Essex site.
Ray Gooding, who is responsible for education at County Hall, said: “The council has a critical role as champion and commissioner of services for vulnerable children and young people in its area.
“It has a duty to ensure disabled children and those with special or additional educational needs can access high-quality provision which meets their needs.
“The strengths listed on the Ofsted report all pertain to the Langham site, whereas the majority of points for improvement relate to the Billericay site.
“The report highlights the challenges of managing a school across two sites separated by a long distance.”
Ramsden Hall is a day and boarding school for boys with behavioural, emotional and social difficulties.
The south Essex campus has 72 pupils, with another 56 north of the county. One parent of the south Essex campus, who did not want to be named, thought changes were needed to improve the school, but had doubts about the proposals.
She said: “Anyone who has got a child with challenging behaviour knows how disruptive they can be, so you can imagine how difficult it must be for teachers. You can’t expect miracles.
“Mainstream schools don’t want to take on pupils with special needs, so parents have no choice but to send them to schools like Ramsden Hall.
“There are definitely problems there, so something needs to be done, but I don’t think separating the two sites is going to make a massive difference.
“What we really need is more counselling and therapy within the school.