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Thursday, September 24, 1998 Published at 10:36 GMT 11:36 UK


Helping hand for special school

Each pupil place costs £40,000 a year.

Parents with children at a special school in Buckinghamshire have failed to persuade councillors to continue to maintain it - but are going to get help to keep it open.

Penn School, near High Wycombe, gives intensive tuition to 25 pupils with hearing or language problems.

Camden inherited the school from the disbanded Inner London Education Authority in 1990 - one of numerous out-of-town special schools provided for the capital.

[ image: Parents value the intensive teaching]
Parents value the intensive teaching
But now there are no Camden pupils there and the council intends to close it. Parents lobbied councillors at a meeting on Wednesday night to decide the school's fate.

The headteacher, Alan Jones, told BBC News Online the outcome was much better than he had hoped.

"It's what I would call a victory for common sense," he said.

"The members listened to our case and recognised the value of the school and although they are going to cease to maintain it from next August, they are going to work with us to transfer it to a third party."

A business consortium has made a bid to Camden to buy the school in order to acquire vacant land which is part of the site - helping the school to continue running while it sets up an educational trust.

"The council meeting was very helpful," Mr Jones said. "We came away feeling much, much more positive about the whole thing."

Many similar special centres have closed in recent years as more children with learning difficulties are taught in mainstream primary or secondary schools.

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