Plans move a step closer for new site for Chapel Road School
Children at a complex needs school in south Norfolk are celebrating after the government committed to fund 47 additional places – raising hopes that a long-awaited rebuild is just around the corner.
Chapel Road School, in Attleborough, was due to be rebuilt as part of the now scrapped Building Schools for the Future programme and work had been under way for the last three years to try to find a suitable site and secure funding for a new school.
In April, the council applied to the Department for Education (DfE) for funding under its Targeted Basic Need Programme, which is aimed at providing additional funding for school places in areas where they are most needed.
The DfE has now announced that about £820m will be available nationally as part of the programme and Chapel Road will be one of the schools to benefit. But the exact amount of funding available locally is yet to be determined. Norfolk County Council has already committed £3m towards the project but extra funds are needed to make the new school a reality. Karin Heap, headteacher, welcomed the news. 'This is something we have wanted for a long time,' she said. 'Governors have been campaigning for 30 years. This is such good news for us and it is the start of a journey. This is very, very positive for us and this is the best news we have had in a long time. I am very grateful to everyone who has made this happen.'
Alec Byrne, Norfolk County councillor for Attleborough, who has been pressing this case for many years, said: 'We have been working hard to secure a new school for Chapel Road for several years and this is a significant step forward.'
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Mick Castle, cabinet member for schools at Norfolk County Council, said: 'Improving provision for children with complex special needs has been the highest priority in our complex needs strategy, and the county council has always been very clear that in order to make this happen, Chapel Road needs a 21st century building to support the hard work and commitment of children, staff and families.
'We have already committed £3m from our current capital project towards this and although the Department for Education's announcement doesn't go into detail about the extent of its financial contribution, I hope this means we can now press ahead with the project to relocate the school.'
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The additional 47 places at Chapel Road will mean any new school will have 110 places. It will also meet the needs of youngsters with a wider range of special needs than the current 63 place school.
Norfolk County Council, the school and the DfE will now be in discussion about the levels of funding available and the potential site of any new school.
Mid-Norfolk MP George Freeman said: 'This is the culmination of a long campaign by the inspirational team behind Chapel Road School who it is has been my privilege to help.'