Outstanding Norfolk school could expand across the county

An outstanding Norfolk special school could expand to support children in the west of the county – and save tax payers �1.3m a year.

Eaton Hall School, in Norwich, currently caters for 44 boys aged seven to 16 with behavioural, emotional and social difficulties from its base in Pettus Road, Eaton.

But the site – rated outstanding by inspectors following their last visit in 2009 – is regularly over-subscribed and there is no similar provision for girls or younger boys in the county. It means older children are often taught out of the county – at an average cost of �60,000 per youngster – while expensive special arrangements have to be made for younger pupils.

Norfolk County Council is now looking to expand the school to two sites in the west of the county to reduce the number of youngsters being educated outside of Norfolk.

If approved, the proposals could save up to �36,000 per pupil and about �1.3m a year for taxpayers.

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Alison Thomas, council cabinet member for children's services, said: 'At the moment we have too many children travelling out of county, a long way from their home and family. This is much more expensive for taxpayers and this proposal would see us spending a minimal amount of money to save a great deal.'

The plans would involve creating 'satellite' sites for up to 36 pupils at the former Church Hill First School, in Grimston, and Pott Row First School, both near King's Lynn. Between them, the sites would cater for boys aged five to 14 and girls aged five to 11.

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The council has set aside �70,000 to meet the cost of alterations to the buildings. The expansion would also create jobs in the west of the county.

Mrs Thomas said the expansion would ensure even more Norfolk children with complex needs got the best possible start to their education.

A consultation into the proposal began on Monday. If approved by the county council's cabinet, the new sites could open in September 2012.


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