Lyndale parents brand closure consultation 'misleading'

Wirral Globe: Lyndale parents do not want the school to close. Lyndale parents do not want the school to close.

PARENTS of a Wirral special needs school facing closure say the open and transparent consultation they were promised has been “taken away” from them after the council’s head of children’s services published a “misleading” 24-page document.

The 12-week consultation on the future of the Lyndale School began on Wednesday but parents of the school – which caters for some of Wirral’s most vulnerable children – have described it as “misleading”, focusing more on money than the needs of the children.

“We have sat and read the consultation document – it’s all about funding and capital,” explained parent governor Emma Leadbetter, whose nine-year-old daughter attends Lyndale.

“We think it’s quite misleading.”

Parents met with Wirral’s director of children’s services, Julia Hassall, last month to discuss what would be involved in the consultation.

Mrs Leadbetter added: “The openness and transparency we were promised has been taken away from the parents by what she has published.”

The authority announced it was “minded” to shut down the Eastham school in December, citing a drop in pupil numbers and a change in funding as the reason.

Since then, parents have battled to change the minds of education chiefs, with more than 6,580 people signing a petition to save the school.

A decision to consult on the closure was upheld by the council’s co-ordinating committee in February after opposition councillors “called-in” the ruling cabinet’s decision.

A number of consultation meetings will take place before it closes on Wednesday, June 25 but Mrs Leadbetter said the meetings have been organised too soon and the whole process is moving “too quick”.

Concerns have also been raised over the figures used in the document and how Lyndale is compared to other schools in the borough.

Mrs Leadbetter explained: “When they talk about small schools it is all negative and when they talk about large schools, it’s all positive – but having a small school is what Lyndale children need.

“The document goes on about attendance but a lot of our children are in hospital and are off ill. “The behaviour and safety of the pupils at Lyndale is outstanding but the document has made us look like we are a rubbish school.

“Nothing in the document is talking about the needs of the children – it is just all about money and if the school closes – they have already got that in mind.”

Parents say they also feel some options which were originally being considered have been “disregarded” without full exploration, including the creation of a two to 19 school, which they have been campaigning for since 2010.

Addressing the concerns, Julia Hassall said: “Making sure that the children at the Lyndale School continue to receive high quality education, care and long term stability, is the centre of our concern.

“The option for closure is being considered because the viability of the school is compromised by its small size and falling roll, which both contribute to a difficult and potentially worsening financial position.

“The consultation will be open and transparent.”

She said a total of seven meetings would be held, offering people as many opportunities as possible to attend.

Responding to claims that she had still not answered questions parents had asked, Ms Hassall said: “The consultation document is intended to support full discussion of the issues facing the school and all options for consideration.

“Any questions handed to me at my recent meeting with parent governors will be responded to and, along with previous questions and statements, will form part of the consultation process.”

The consultation will close on Wednesday, June 25.

You can view and take part in the consultation by clicking here.

Feedback can be sent by post to The Lyndale School Consultation, Children and Young People’s Department, Hamilton Building, Conway Street, Birkenhead, CH41 1FD, or by email to specialreview@wirral.gov.uk

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When do the consultation meetings take place?

Wirral Globe:

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What has happened since the closure threat was first announced in December?

December 12: Wirral Council announced it was “minded” to close the school.
December 16: A petition to save the school reaches 3,000 signatures (it now has 6,443).
December 20: Parents ask the council for more time before a report is submitted to cabinet.
January 16: Wirral’s ruling cabinet agrees to consult on the closure of Lyndale.
January 21: Tory lead describes closing Lyndale as an "act of educational vandalism".
January 29: Opposition councillors “call-in” the decision and ask for it to be reviewed.
February 4:  Call-in meeting cancelled after bureaucratic bungling means council is in breach of its own constitution.
February 11: Education Secretary Michael Gove pledges his support for the school.
February 14: Wirral South MP Alison McGovern chairs a public meeting over Lyndale’s future.
February 27: Co-ordinating committee uphold cabinet’s decision in rearranged call-in meeting.
April 2: Wirral Council launches 12-week consultation.

Comments (5)

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11:59am Fri 4 Apr 14

Thepleb says...

Minds made already, unfortunately the people you are dealing with don't see a child they see a number on a spreadsheet every meeting you will have will be met with the same answers and most of them answers will probably be "we will look into that and get back to you" a total tick box exercise, you will have your opposition councillors fighting your cause to gain votes for the soon to be open local ballots knowing full well they can't do a thing as they hold no sway in the labour led cabinet get ready for bluff after bluff...sorry to be so negative about this as I know what a fantastic school this is and how deeply change would affect the children but you are dealing with unemotional suits who have been hired to wield the axe.
Minds made already, unfortunately the people you are dealing with don't see a child they see a number on a spreadsheet every meeting you will have will be met with the same answers and most of them answers will probably be "we will look into that and get back to you" a total tick box exercise, you will have your opposition councillors fighting your cause to gain votes for the soon to be open local ballots knowing full well they can't do a thing as they hold no sway in the labour led cabinet get ready for bluff after bluff...sorry to be so negative about this as I know what a fantastic school this is and how deeply change would affect the children but you are dealing with unemotional suits who have been hired to wield the axe. Thepleb
  • Score: 6

3:35pm Fri 4 Apr 14

water1lily says...

Window dressing!Have Wirral ever considered anything but money when it comes to our children but never considered money when it comes to spending on themselves.God forbid they would ever do what is best for the children.
Window dressing!Have Wirral ever considered anything but money when it comes to our children but never considered money when it comes to spending on themselves.God forbid they would ever do what is best for the children. water1lily
  • Score: 5

3:52pm Wed 9 Apr 14

Mojo68 says...

Totally agree with you Thepleb. The amount of times we have asked the same questions since December 19th and still no answers. Julia Hassall is extremely good at giving you a very sympathetic face, her head tilted to one side as you express your concerns and when a question is asked replying with "I will look into that or yes we must look into that". We recently discovered that it was going to be council staff that were to be carrying out the SEN improvement test, how arrogant of them to believe that they themselves could have the medical knowledge to even begin to assess our children and their needs. Fortunately we have now got them to agree to seek an independent body to do part of this report. We have been reassured that if Lyndale closes we will be allowed a choice of either Elleray Park or Stanley School yet when I asked what would happen if all parents chose the same school what would happen (neither school could accommodate all our children) nobody was able to answer me!! Then I asked what would happen if they close Lyndale, fill the other 2 schools with our children then have more children coming into the system with special needs, where would be the space for them? Would they stop giving these children an education statement? This question too was left unanswered. It would be fantastic if everybody reading this article could take a little time to give the council some feedback, even if not directly affected it could in the future. Thank you.
Totally agree with you Thepleb. The amount of times we have asked the same questions since December 19th and still no answers. Julia Hassall is extremely good at giving you a very sympathetic face, her head tilted to one side as you express your concerns and when a question is asked replying with "I will look into that or yes we must look into that". We recently discovered that it was going to be council staff that were to be carrying out the SEN improvement test, how arrogant of them to believe that they themselves could have the medical knowledge to even begin to assess our children and their needs. Fortunately we have now got them to agree to seek an independent body to do part of this report. We have been reassured that if Lyndale closes we will be allowed a choice of either Elleray Park or Stanley School yet when I asked what would happen if all parents chose the same school what would happen (neither school could accommodate all our children) nobody was able to answer me!! Then I asked what would happen if they close Lyndale, fill the other 2 schools with our children then have more children coming into the system with special needs, where would be the space for them? Would they stop giving these children an education statement? This question too was left unanswered. It would be fantastic if everybody reading this article could take a little time to give the council some feedback, even if not directly affected it could in the future. Thank you. Mojo68
  • Score: 1

4:04pm Wed 9 Apr 14

water1lily says...

Well mojo68 the answer to one of your questions is that consultants hired by WBC to cut costs have said too many Wirral children are being statemented so we can all see where that is going!
Well mojo68 the answer to one of your questions is that consultants hired by WBC to cut costs have said too many Wirral children are being statemented so we can all see where that is going! water1lily
  • Score: 0

10:16pm Wed 9 Apr 14

Mojo68 says...

Yes I've read that article and I put that to Julia Hassall and her cronies at the first consultation meeting to which they made some noise whilst not answering the actual question, not exactly what I would call being open and transparent!!
Yes I've read that article and I put that to Julia Hassall and her cronies at the first consultation meeting to which they made some noise whilst not answering the actual question, not exactly what I would call being open and transparent!! Mojo68
  • Score: 0

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