WALKING around the Lyndale School you soon realise why its pupils, parents and staff are so passionate and determined to keep it open.

With its physiotherapy and hydrotherapy rooms, light rooms, soft play area and £80,000 sensory garden - funded by generous Globe readers - the Eastham school is a place of learning, comfort, safety and for so many of its pupils, a second home.

Caring for some of the borough's most vulnerable children is no easy task and staff are highly trained to ensure they are able to care and protect their pupils to the best of their ability and provide a sensory curriculum.

But while parents rely so heavily on the school, Wirral Council is currently consulting on its closure due to a drop in pupil numbers and changes to funding for special needs children.

Despite having less than 25 pupils - out of an available 40 places - Lyndale does not feel "under-crowded", in fact, it is the perfect environment for children who need that little bit of extra attention and nurturing.

Many of the school's children rely on wheelchairs, something that in itself takes up space.

Then of course, children need to be removed from their chair and placed on the floor for play and learning.

This requires the use of a harness and a hoist - another piece of equipment that takes of a hefty proportion of a classroom's space.

Children need one-on-on time with Lyndale staff, something parents fear will be taken away should their children be forced to go elsewhere.

Dawn Hughes, whose 11-year-old daughter Ellie attends Lyndale is among those who fear children could be "segregated" if moved to other schools.

Speaking at a public meeting in February, Ms Hughes said: "Why should they be locked away for their own safety in a school that is unsuitable for them in the first place?"

Lyndale parents are brave and dedicated and, for some, are forced to come to terms with the fact their child may never truly be able to communicate their feelings, their needs, their hopes and desires.

For any parent to see their child go off to school but for these parents, it is made only more difficult but Lyndale offers them comfort.

Parents are adamant it is a school worth saving and is the only place they feel confident leaving their children in the knowledge that they are safe and well looked after.

If the worst comes to the worst and Lyndale does close, some parents have said they will be forced to keep their child at home.

Wirral's director of children's services, Julia Hassall, has said on numerous occasions that the needs of the children are the priority and believes that other schools, namely Ellery Park and Stanley School, can cater for Lyndale children.

A 12-week consultation on the school's future is currently underway and closes on June 25.

Addressing concerns raised by parents on the consultation, 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.”

In 2003, Globe readers took Lyndale to their hearts.

Led by this newspaper, an appeal was launched to provide the children with a sensory garden.

The campaign really struck a chord and an astonishing £80,000 flooded in - in under 18 months.

It seemed almost everyone wanted to become involved.

Cherie Blair praised the fundraising efforts after she visited Lyndale and saw plans for the sensory garden in February, 2004.

The then-Prime Minister's wife spent an hour at the school touring the building.

No matter how you feel about the closure threat, it is hard to deny just how important Lyndale is to everyone who uses it.


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


When do the consultation meetings take place?

Wirral Globe:


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.