WIRRAL'S council cabinet has refused calls to extend the age range of children attending Lyndale school in Eastham.

Governors, staff and parents at the school, which caters for children aged two to 11 years with complex learning difficulties, had asked the local authority to consider extending the education provision from ages two to 19.

A feasibility study carried out by Wirral's education department concentrated on the buildings, costings and views of parents of a wide range of children from other schools.

It concluded there was no call for an age increase.

During a meeting of Wirral's cabinet on Thursday night, education chief Howard Cooper's recommendation that Lyndale continued to operate as a primary school for children with complex learning difficulties was approved by cabinet.

Parents have criticised the decision, adding that there is a real need for the school to extend its education provision beyond age 11.

Among them is Debbie Devereux-Roberts, a mother-of-three from Thingwall, who gave evidence on Thursday night and whose son attends the school. The part-time teacher told the Globe: "I have two children who have profound and multiple learning difficulties.

"One of my children has had to move out of authority to maintain that good education that was started at Lyndale, because Wirral couldn't provide for her here. My son is currently at Lyndale for one more year.

"I feel very let down, because we were promised when we were looking for a school for Meg about two and half years ago, that Wirral were going to improve the secondary PMLD provision for children and we're still in the same situation.

"I'm horrified that they're still saying there's no case for a school like Lyndale to become two to 19. There clearly is, because there’s no alternative at the moment."

Mrs Devereux-Roberts' daughter Meg, 12, attended Lyndale and now attends the Royal School for the Blind in Liverpool.

She continued: "It's costing our local education authority quite a lot of money to send her there, because it's a private school. It would be more beneficial and cost effective to bring Meg back to a school in Wirral.

"I've been that told that Meg is currently costing the local education authority in the region of £40,000 a year. It would be approximately £20,000 to educate her here. We'll be facing the same thing with my 10-year-old son Harry in a year's time.

"The director of education says there's no case for a two to 19 school, but we very strongly believe there is."

Cllr Sheila Clarke, Wirral's cabinet member for children's services and lifelong learning, said: "Following an approach by parents, governors and staff at Lyndale School, Eastham, the Council carried out a consultation and feasibility study into their wish to create all age (2-19) special school for children with profound and multiple learning difficulties.

"The studies found that, although there is support within Lyndale School for the new facility, there is little or no support from parents of PMLD children in other areas around the borough. For this reason, the proposal has been recommended for refusal.

"Parents of PMLD children around Wirral told us that they are already satisfied with the provision made for their children. No hard evidence was found to support the idea that the proposal would improve the education provided for such pupils.

"This led to concerns that the facility would be under-used, and would not provide value for money.

"Wirral Council is now concentrating on its plans to spend approximately £34 million on improving special education provision across Wirral overall, including for children and young people with PMLD.

"Lyndale School will continue to operate as an excellent facility for children with complex learning difficulties, and we are in ongoing discussions with the headteacher, governors and parents at Lyndale about its future.

"As well as concentrating on our plans to improve special education overall, we are taking a deeper look at the provision we make for children and young people with profound and multiple learning difficulties, particularly at secondary level."

During Mrs Devereux-Roberts address to cabinet, it emerged that in a meeting with parents, education director Howard Cooper was alleged to have said there was no provision as these children were not expected to live.

Mr Cooper offered an apology stating that he really meant to celebrate the fact the children are now living longer. He said: "I know I can sometimes say things clumsily, and this comment was made during what was a heated meeting. I apologise for this."