Fate of special school near Lancaster to be decided as date is set for consultation on closure

Consultation into the future of Wennington Hall School will begin later this year.

Wednesday, 2nd June 2021, 4:44 pm
Wennington Hall School. Photo: Wennington Hall School/Lancashire County Council
Wennington Hall School. Photo: Wennington Hall School/Lancashire County Council

The residential special school caters for young people with social, emotional, and mental health needs. Pupils can also attend the school on a day basis. The school has capacity for 80 pupils, but just 34 are currently attending.

The most recent Ofsted inspection of the school took place in July 2019, rating it as being in need of significant improvement. A previous inspection, in December 2016, concluded the school was inadequate and required special measures.

As a result of the inspection judgment in 2016, and in line with national policy, the Department for Education issued an academy order.

Attempts were made to convert the school to an academy, sponsored by a multi-academy trust. Despite extensive discussions, this proved unsuccessful.

In September 2019, the Regional Schools' Commissioner, on behalf of the Department for Education, wrote to advise that approval had been given to revoke the academy order, subject to the council sourcing an appropriate independent provider to take over the running of educational provision at Wennington Hall.

As a result, cabinet made the decision for Lancashire County Council to proceed with the consultation.

After carrying out an initial consultation, consideration is now being given to the closing of the school, and a statutory consultation process will begin in September.

Parents, staff and other interested parties will have the chance to ask questions and to express their views, as part of this consultation.

The county council says it is committed to continuing to support the school during this period of change.

We reported in January how Lancashire County Council, which runs the school, started the first part of a consultation process last January, but abandoned it early in the summer in recognition of the difficulty of finding a new operator as the pandemic took hold.

The decision was later made to restart the initial consultation phase, which ran from March 25 to April 24 with interested parties able to submit their feedback and share their views.

As neither a suitable academy sponsor nor private provider were found since the academy order was revealed, the decision has been made to begin the next consultation period.