Hospital school set for changes

pinderfields hospital school, Wrenthorpe
pinderfields hospital school, Wrenthorpe

AN outstanding-rated special needs school is set to be remodelled despite objections from staff, parents and governors.

Earlier this year Wakefield Council announced plans to change Pinderfields Hospital School, in Wrenthorpe, to a 35-place pupil referral unit (PRU), so that it would continue to qualify for government funding from April next year.

But in a public consultation carried out this summer, around 85 per cent of people were opposed to the status change.

People were worried that there would not be enough places to meet demands, that the school would be less able to deliver the curriculum, and that current and future pupils would no longer be eligible to study at the school.

A report to the council’s cabinet committee said the plan could cost staff their jobs.

And it said mainstream schools would now have to pay for their pupils to use extra services at the hospital school.

But the report said there would be enough places to accommodate all pupils who are medically unfit to attend mainstream school.

And it recommended the cabinet to approve the changes on Tuesday.

Coun Olivia Rowley said the move was necessary due to changes in the government’s funding system.

She said: “We recognise the concerns over the change of status, particularly from staff at the school.

“We are committed to keeping this outstanding school open – that is our clear priority. Changes to government funding formulas were putting its future in doubt so we had to take action. The steps we are taking to convert the school to a PRU will ensure its future.

“The school would continue to educate children who are medically unfit to go to school – and would also be in a position to offer extra support currently provided, but at a cost to mainstream schools.

“If that funding is not forthcoming from the schools, then the hospital school would not be able to provide the extra support services.”