Portsmouth special needs school set to close – with pupils moved to new provision on same premises

Children at the Willows Centre in Battenburg Avenue, North End could soon be attending Cliffdale Primary Academy in the same road Picture: Chris Moorhouse
Children at the Willows Centre in Battenburg Avenue, North End could soon be attending Cliffdale Primary Academy in the same road Picture: Chris Moorhouse
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CHILDREN with special needs could soon have to move schools after the publication of a new council report. 

The Portsmouth City Council report recommends the closure of the Willows Centre for Children with the proposal to transfer the 48 pupils to Cliffdale Primary Academy.

Youngsters will still be taught at the same premises.

The council have pledged that the children will continue to receive the specialist provision they need and it is hoped any moves will cause minimum disruption for students.

Operating as part of the Solent Academies Trust, Cliffdale is also a Send school and is located on the same site as the Willows. 

Speaking ahead of the publication of the report, Cllr Suzy Horton, cabinet member for education, reassured parents the academy will still provide the ‘best service possible’.

‘It won’t be called Willows any more but I want to reassure people it will still carry on the professional service,’ she explained.

Statutory consultation was undertaken between 18 January and 15 February with parents, carers, staff and other interested parties all consulted. 

For the decision to be ratified, Portsmouth City Council's cabinet member for education, Councillor Suzy Horton, will consider the report and make a decision at a meeting on March 20.

If the proposal is approved, staff from the Willows Centre for Children would transfer to Solent Academies Trust and The Willows Centre for Children would officially close on August 31.

Cliffdale Primary School would then expand on September 1 using the existing Willows premises.
The expansion of Cliffdale Primary Academy is subject to approval from secretary of state for education – if it is not approved then Willows will remain open.