"Outstanding" Wyre special school to provide more places for pupils on new site

A special school in Wyre which is rated as outstanding is set to expand onto a new site almost two miles away from its main building.

By Paul Faulkner
Sunday, 7th November 2021, 1:14 pm
Updated Sunday, 7th November 2021, 1:16 pm

Red Marsh School on Holly Road in Thornton-Cleveleys will create an additional 30 places by establishing a so-called “satellite” facility at Northfold Community Primary School on Ringway. It will bring the total number of pupils at Red Marsh to 124.

Lancashire County Council’s cabinet has given the go-ahead to the plan following a consultation with interested parties from both schools. That came after a recent study found a need for more special school spaces in the Wyre and Fylde areas.

The new facility will be housed in the currently vacant Haven building at Northfold, which has recently been used by the county council for storage. It will be ready to accept pupils from the start of the next term in January.

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Red Marsh School has more applications than it has places (image: Red Marsh School)

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Out of 114 responses to the consultation, 86 percent were in favour of the expansion of Red Marsh - and 68 percent supported the chosen option of using the Haven site to achieve it.

The remainder would have preferred to see Red Marsh expand within its existing grounds, either by the installation of a modular building or the extension of the current facilities.

Cabinet members were told that there were a “very limited number of respondents who disagreed with the proposal [who] raised concerns about the additional demands that would be placed on staff if the school were to be based on two sites”.

A "satellite" facility for Red Marsh will be created in a vacant building at Northfold Community Primary School (image: Google)

The satellite provision to be created at Northfold will be run as part of Red Marsh, which is over-subscribed for its current 94 places.

The school caters for children and young people between the ages of two and 19 who have severe, profound and multiple learning difficulties and autism spectrum conditions. It has been judged to be “outstanding” by Ofsted for the past decade.

Cabinet member for community and cultural services Peter Buckley - who, in a previous career, gave music lessons at Red Marsh - described it as a “fantastic school” which does “good work”.

Deputy council leader Alan Vincent welcomed the use of Northfold as a “win-win”, stating that “parking and traffic problems in and around Sacred Heart School and Red Marsh are not easy to cope with”.

In a statement issued after the meeting, cabinet member for education and skills Jayne Rear said that the headteachers of both Red Marsh and Northfold schools believed that the satellite provision would bring “benefits to all their pupils”.

"The children from Red Marsh will have the specialist support they need, while also having more inclusive opportunities.

"Teachers from Northfold Community Primary School will also be able to access additional support for children with special needs from the staff at Red Marsh School as and when this is required.

“The creation of three additional classrooms will allow us to help more children and young people to benefit from the support provided by this school enabling them to achieve their full potential.

"It will also make better use of a large empty school building that is currently vacant, bringing the former school back into use,” said County Cllr Rear, who also thanked respondents to the consultation.