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Fresh hope for special school improvement

PUBLISHED: 10:42 06 May 2010 | UPDATED: 15:23 14 July 2010

Some of Norfolk's most vulnerable children have fresh hope after a decision to remove their school from a list of places sharing £80m of building cash was reversed.

Some of Norfolk's most vulnerable children have fresh hope after a decision to remove their school from a list of places sharing £80m of building cash was reversed.

Chapel Road School in Attleborough has been reinstated on the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) list, reviving its chances of moving from its complex of cramped, unsuitable buildings to a new site in the area.

There was fury in September when the school was dropped from the list of BSF schools because government agency Partnership for Schools said schemes had to be “shovel-ready”.

Months of protests and lobbying now appear to have paid off. But headteacher Karin Heap said there was only “cautious optimism” because a site still needed to be identified.

She said: “We are back where we were in September. Generally it is good news. I'm delighted and relieved - but also somewhat cautious.”

She added: “With the economy the way it is, I couldn't see any way that a new school could be built, other than BSF.”

The school, which has 56 pupils, caters for pupils with a range of special needs.

Mrs Heap said: “Every year that goes by our situation becomes more critical. Children's needs are becoming more complex, but the school building doesn't get any bigger. I have to make tough decisions about which young people we can take.

“The children only want what everyone else has. They aren't asking for anything tremendous.”

She said support from “the community, from newspapers and local councillors” had been “breathtaking”, and added: “I do think it has made an impact. We really appreciate that support.”

Mrs Heap praised Norfolk County Council for its work to find a site, but said: “The hard work really starts now.”

Lisa Christensen, the council's director of children's services, said: “We are ambitious for the county's young people and plans to transform their learning under the national BSF programme are progressing well.

“We are delighted that Chapel Road School is to be included in the programme. We look forward to working with all the schools involved - and their wider communities - as the project progresses.”

The other projects are refurbishments at Great Yarmouth High School, Marshland High School and Sewell Park College in Norwich and new academies at Costessey High School and The Park High School in King's Lynn.

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