PARENTS fighting the planned merger of two Newport schools have submitted a petition of more than 405 names to the council.

Residents are against proposals to merge Gaer Infants and Junior schools and convert the infants’ building into a school for children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

While they recognise such a special school is needed, they fear their children will lose their large outdoor play area, and argue the junior school doesn’t have the space to cater for them and future nursery-age children in the area.

Their concerns have been echoed by local councillors Debbie Wilcox, Herbie Thomas and Mark Whitcutt, who have also submitted formal objections.

In a statement submitted to the council, they have asked the education department to consider a number of alternatives including the possibility of establishing amalgamated provision on a split site and creating an ASD unit in the Gaer annexe and/or a new-build.

They said: “The need, whatever the outcome, is to ensure that there is no detriment to the children of the Gaer infants and juniors in terms of the overall learning environment.”

Parent and vice chairwoman of governors, Debbie Haile, fears parents may start withdrawing their children from the school in September if the plans are passed.

She said: “That will be very disappointing because we love our school and we want to keep all our children.

“We are not trying to stop autistic children from having a school we are trying to say we don’t deserve to lose ours. It’s not about thinking we are better than any other school, it’s to do with what’s just and fair and this is not.”

The plans are part of wider proposals to amalgamate four city schools to tackle falling pupil numbers.

This includes plans to merge Brynglas Primary with Crindau, leaving Brynglas available to become home to Newport’s newest Welsh-medium primary school, Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Teyrnon, currently based at Maindee Primary.

Children from Brynglas’ ASD unit will join any new special school.

If agreed all pupils could start at the new sites in September 2013.