A SPECIAL school will move into a new multi-million pound building, after talks with a Benfleet primary school.
Following a failed plan to share a site with the Deanes School, in Thundersley, Glenwood Special School will now be rebuilt just yards away, in Rushbottom Lane – on the same site as Montgomerie Primary School.
Montgomerie and Glenwood schools are both optimistic about the new proposals.
Glenwood headteacher Judith Salter said: “We are delighted we can look forward to a building that will have all the space we need.
“We really need this new school, both to provide an even better experience and education for young people, but also to have enough places for those who need us.”
The school has been working on a new build since 2004. Mrs Salter added: “We have 120 pupils at the moment and a new building will allow us more.
“The building we have is not fit for purpose and we are very undersized for the number of children. We need a building that gives us space to enhance the experience and learning of our young people.”
Mrs Salter says she hopes the new build will include sensory rooms and medical facilities for physiotherapists.
In March, Essex County Council’s ruling Tory administration approved £14million towards rebuilding the Glenwood School.
Montgomerie, which was separate infant and junior schools before it merged, will use the front part the Rushbottom Lane site and the playing field to the side. The former junior school building will be slightly enlarged to create a 210-place school. A building at the rear of the site, which used to house the infant school, will be demolished and Glenwood’s new school will take its place.
The schools, which are currently only 200ft away from each other, will remain separate but share the existing Montgomerie entrance off Rushbottom Lane.
The special needs school had been earmarked for a £23million rebuild alongside the Deanes School, in a state-of-the-art new facility on the Deanes site.
But the co-location plans were scrapped and senior Tories decided to pay £2million to expand King John and Appleton Schools to take on an 150 extra pupils each.
Montgomerie headteacher Tony Cosans added: “One of the things that struck me is, I’ve got two buildings that are only partially used. Our school site is enormous and the part of the site that Glenwood need is one we don’t need anyway.
“I’m very excited about the plans, there are drawings to be done but we have had one meeting to get an agreement in principle.”
In a letter to parents, county councillor Ray Gooding says he hopes Glenwood’s rebuild will be completed by September 2016 and the work on Montgomerie to be finished by September 2015.
COUNTY councillor Ray Gooding said he had kept his promise to rebuild Glenwood.
In a joint letter to parents, Mr Gooding, chairman of Glenwood governors Sheridan Leigh, and Montgomerie Primary School governor Andy Bolt, said: “As you will know, following the County Council’s decision to cease the rebuilding of The Deanes School, it was no longer possible to proceed with the relocation and rebuilding of Glenwood School on that site. The County Council has therefore been looking for an alternative.”
Essex County Council will still own the old Glenwood site and says there are “no plans” but locals say it could be housing.
Mr Gooding said: “I made a promise to Glenwood school earlier this year – your school will be rebuilt. I am pleased that today I can update Glenwood staff, pupils and parents that we have a potential solution.”
But Julie Young, Labour leader at county hall, said the decision was a “missed opportunity”.
She added: “I’m delighted they are finally getting their new build, however I’m still disappointed County Council failed to deliver what they originally planned. I suppose Glenwood land will go for housing which will mean an increased number of students in the area. It’s been a mess. They should have carried on with the original plan.”
St George’s Ward councillor Jackie Govier added: “Glenwood has been treated appallingly. How many houses could even be built there, would it be worthwhile? It all needs thinking about. What I don’t want to see is the playing fields greatly diminished.”