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Parents pull together in campaign to save Lyndale
PARENTS are pulling together in the hope of saving a Wirral special needs school that faces a closure threat.
More than 50 parents and concerned members of the community met in Eastham last night, Thursday, to discuss the threat faced by the Lyndale School, which cares for some of the borough's most severely disabled children.
The meeting, chaired by Wirral South MP Alison McGovern, saw parents resolve to set up a PTA to enable fundraising to begin and a committee to scrutinise the options and proposals put forward by Wirral Council, which they feel has still not provided the answers to questions they asked in December.
The authority dropped a bombshell just two weeks before Christmas when it announced it was "minded" to begin closure procedures at Lyndale after a predicted "budget shortfall" of £72,000.
Despite pleas from parents, the council's ruling cabinet gave the go-ahead to consult on the closure of the Eastham school in January.
Thursday’s meeting, held at South Wirral High School, raised important questions about the future of the school and why it is such a vital part of the lives of those who rely on it so heavily.
Lyndale parents are fighting to save the school their children so desperately need.
Dawn Hughes, whose 11-year-old daughter Ellie attends Lyndale, addressed Thursday's public meeting, as she had cabinet last month.
She said that increasing the age range at the school - one of the options put forward by Wirral's director of children's services, Julia Hassall - would help children to retain a sense of security and make the school more sustainable.
"Lyndale parents have strongly supported a two to 19 option for Lyndale for many years, so that their vulnerable children can avoid the unnecessary and cruel distress of transition to an unfamiliar environment and community.
"This option, along with inviting in children from out if the area would have increased role numbers, and it is still possible for this to happen if the will is there."
Ms Hughes added that moving Lyndale children to other schools in the borough could cause them to be segregated.
She said: "Why should they be locked away for their own safety in a school that is unsuitable for them in the first place?"
Another woman present at the meeting told how her the life of her son - who has since died - was improved massively by the short time he spent at Lyndale.
"He went to a mainstream school and was secluded from doing sports day, he was secluded from being in school plays because he had learning difficulties but at Lyndale, he did the lot.
"That school can't close, these children need it, they really do need this school."
After discussions on what the next step was, Alison McGovern MP - who says she is extremely passionate about the school and has asked several questions of the council - said a scrutiny committee should be set up to analyse the proposals and figured put forward by the council.
"There has to be a way to make it sustainable," said Ms McGovern, who said she would encourage councillors to visit Lyndale, a building she described as “very moving”.
"I think we should look at every option to make Lyndale sustainable and we need to challenge the council."
Following the meeting, Ms McGovern told the Globe: "There's a lot of support for Lyndale, we just need to mobilise that into a practical process."
Peter Crawford - who carries out music therapy at the school with Taiko Dragons said: "This is one of those things like intensive care in hospitals - it's there for when it's needed.
"They have hot it all at Lyndale - any parent in the Wirral area could find themselves in a situation when they need Lyndale.
"Once it's gone, it's gone. It is such a unique school - it should not be allowed to close."
Petitions and leaflets were also handed out by parents, who gave also created a Facebook page and Twitter account to coordinate the Save Lyndale campaign.
Further public meetings will also be held in the future.
EARLIER this week, the Globe reported how Education Secretary Michael Gove had pledged his support for the school and "will do anything to help the children and teachers" of the school.
The 12-week consultation – which was expected to start this month – has been delayed after opposition councillors “called-in” the cabinet’s decision.
The “call-in” meeting will take place on February 27. Wednesday but had to be postponed until February 27 after a Town Hall bungle meant it was in breach of its own constitution.
The funding shortfall – which Wirral’s director of children’s services said could increase to £232,000 – has been linked to changes in the way funding is allocated and a reduction in the number of pupils.
Council leader Cllr Phil Davies in a recent statement said: “No decision has been made yet about the future of Lyndale, and none will be made until the 12-week consultation period is over.
“I said at the cabinet meeting we have an open mind about the future of Lyndale and we are not doing this because of any issues with the quality of education.”
Eight options have been put forward for consultation – including turning the school into an academy – but councillors stressed other suggestions will be considered.
More than 6,300 people have signed an online petition to keep the school open. You can sign it too by clicking here.