County Hall gates

Cabinet to consider options over the future of Bleasdale School's residential provision

Plans to avoid the under-utilisation of the residential provision of an outstanding special school in Carnforth are set to be considered by councillors next week. 

Bleasdale School is a residential school for pupils with profound and multiple learning difficulties of all ages. Over the last few years very few families have taken up the offer of a residential place although children continue to attend the school as day pupils.

As a result, a number of options have been proposed to try to avoid the under-utilisation of the facilities available at Bleasdale School, which has been categorised as an outstanding school by Ofsted since 2009, and to optimise the efficient use of public funds.

These four options are outlined in a new report that will go to Lancashire County Council's cabinet meeting on Thursday 6 October.

Cabinet is being asked to consider different proposals about the future use of the residential building in order to make the best use of the accommodation and public funds. Cabinet is not being asked to consider any options in relation to Bleasdale School itself. It is expected that Bleasdale School will continue to operate as a day school as it does now and so existing and future pupils will not be affected by any decision that is taken by cabinet.

At present, the options being proposed are to maintain existing arrangements; dispose of the residential building; change the purpose of the residential building to create a six bedded children's home for children with complex health needs that is maintained by the local authority and consider other options to create one or more smaller three bedded homes; and to change the purpose of the residential building to a children's home for children with disabilities with a private provider.

Dependent on the approach being backed by cabinet, approval is being sought to undertake feasibility studies to look at the options in more detail.

County Councillor Jayne Rear, cabinet member for education and skills, said: "If we do not act to address the under-utilisation of this outstanding school, then we face a number of risks.

"The proposals that are being put forward to cabinet mitigates this from occurring.

"This is why approval is being sought to undertake feasibility studies to look at the options further, to fully weigh up the potential benefits and drawbacks to determine the best course of action."

A separate report will be presented to a future meeting of cabinet for options appraisals considering all four of the above options once this feasibility study has been carried out.

To read the cabinet report about this decision, select this link: Cabinet agenda – Thursday 6 October