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Special school to shut with loss of 140 jobs
11:00am Saturday 9th February 2013 in News
A SCHOOL for children and young people with profound disabilities is to close with the loss of nearly 140 jobs in Chipping Norton.
Action for Children last night confirmed that Penhurst School, which supports 13 youngsters, will shut its doors in May.
The charity launched a consultation with staff, families and the public about the proposed closure in October last year.
Barbara Street, Action for Children operational director of children’s services, said the full range of alternatives had been considered.
She said: “We fully understand that many people will be saddened by this decision, but despite our best efforts the school has become unsustainable.
“Nationally, there has been an increasing move away from this way of providing care, towards placing more children and young people nearer their local community.
“As a result, the number of children and young people at Penhurst has been steadily falling and the school ran a substantial deficit last year.
“Based on current projections, there will be only five children and young people at the school within two years. We are deeply saddened to have to make this announcement. “We would not have made this decision if we had any viable alternative.”
The charity is working with local authorities to find alternative placements for the children and jobs for staff.
The ratio of employed staff – including teachers, teaching assistants, residential care workers and specialist therapists – is high because of the severe nature of the children’s disabilities.
The school began life as an orphanage on the same site in 1904.