Garratt Park set to expand

as Council plans for £1.5m facilities at Garratt Park School goes to Councillors next week

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The special school in Earlsfield would be expanded to meet the needs of children with mild and moderate learning difficulties who have additional needs including autism, social and communication needs, severe dyslexia or dyspraxia and emotional vulnerability.

The school would also be the base for a new boroughwide service aimed at helping secondary schools respond to growing demand from parents of children with a statement of special needs for a mainstream education.

A team of up to six specialist teachers would work with the increasing number of pupils coming into secondary education whose needs fall within the autistic spectrum (ASD) or have social, communication and language difficulties.

Councillors will be told that three in four pupils with a new statement of educational need (SEN) now attend a mainstream school in the borough (up from 59 per cent five years ago).

As part of the changes Chartfield Special School in Putney would close. The school roll has fallen as it caters for children with a range of less complex needs. In the future such children could prosper in a mainstream setting, or could be placed at the expanded Garratt Park.

Around half of pupils who would otherwise have gone to Chartfield are likely to go to mainstream secondaries where they would benefit from a full curriculum and the wider range of facilities available. They would also receive support from the new peripatetic teaching service. The other half would go to Garratt Park school.

There are no plans to sell the Chartfield site. The council proposes instead to invest about £2m remodelling the building to provide state of the art facilities for primary age children with a range of learning difficulties and autistic disorders

Cabinet member for education Malcolm Grimston said:

"Chartfield's declining roll makes it difficult for the school to deliver the full range of courses and IT facilities that local mainstream schools are now offering. Expanding Garratt Park will enable us to improve the educational opportunities for children while the new peripatetic team will provide extra support in mainstream schools. The service will also work with the growing numbers of children in secondaries with ASD and language disorders."

Chartfield currently has 79 pupils out of a potential school roll of 100. Of these 59 are Wandsworth residents. The school has been reluctant to admit children with more complex needs. This is a key requirement of the DfES Special Schools Working Group which has been examining the future of special schools.

Following the education overview and scrutiny committee on May 10 the proposals will be considered on May 12 by the council's executive. The independent schools organisation committee is expected to meet on May 24 to make the final decision.

For more information on planning for inclusion visit

May 5, 2004