LOCAL MP Rebecca Pow has welcomed a Government decision to rebuild Selworthy Special School, which takes children and young people aged from four to 19 years who have learning disabilities and which has an outreach centre in Wellington.

The school has been affected by ‘crumbly concrete’ on part of its campus, reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) which has been found to be prone to collapse after a number of years, resulting in some schools having to close or stop using parts of their site.

Now, the Department for Education (DfE) has said the Taunton school will receive a full upgrade through the Government’s School Rebuilding Programme.

It follows Ms Pow giving Education Minister Baroness Barran a tour of the site last autumn to show her the problems faced by the school.

Ms Pow said: “While the RAAC issue was concerning, out of this situation has come a really positive outcome in terms of Selworthy Special School now being allocated for a complete rebuild.

“This much-valued school deserves a modern, fit for purpose upgrade and I am absolutely delighted to have worked with the superb Oak Partnership Trust team at Selworthy and the Department for Education to come up with this sensible and welcome decision which has been swiftly made. 

“I shall be working to ensure progress is made and that suitable temporary facilities are in place for the pupils in the interim period.”

Trust chief executive Ian Robinson said: “It goes without saying how pleased we are to be on the Department for Education’s School Rebuilding Programme.

“We are also grateful to civil servants and Ministers for recognising the need for this rebuild. 

“The partnership has had as one of its ambitions from its formation in January, 2019, to work with the DfE and Somerset Council on securing a rebuild.

“This need was amplified when our secondary age pupils moved to a new build in September, 2019. 

“The discovery of RAAC was only the latest in a long list of challenges on a school site that is no longer fit for purpose to meet the needs of some of Somerset’s most vulnerable primary age children.

“We are extremely grateful to our DfE colleagues, who have worked tirelessly in helping us to mitigate the immediate impact of RAAC and supporting us with medium-term solutions.

“We look forward to working not only with the DfE, but also with Somerset Council so we can build bigger and better so that we can better meet the needs of more children with special educational needs and disabilities.” 

However, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary candidate Gideon Amos described Britain’s crumbling schools as ‘a national scandal’.

Mr Amos said pupils in RAAC schools had faced massive disruption to their education because the Government took too long to admit which schools were affected and to find a solution.

He said: “Schools have had to make do with temporary fixes, with evidence that in some cases headteachers have had to put their hands in their own pockets for basic teaching equipment.”