A PUBLIC consultation will be launched on plans to close a special needs school which teachers say would have a 'devastating' impact.

Monmouthshire council has agreed to consult on closing Mounton House School in Pwllmeyric, Chepstow.

The boys school is attended by pupils aged 11-16 with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties.

Monmouthshire council has raised concerns about the "narrow provision" it provides, a cabinet meeting heard on Wednesday.

Last year the county council drew up plans to expand provision at the school, including so that it could cater for boys and girls, and to expand the age range for pupils to aged three to 19.

But Cllr Richard John said the project was abandoned as it would have cost more than £6 million, "significantly more" than the council's budget.

"In this consultation we are looking again at the future of Mounton House because we feel due to its current designation it is too narrowly focussed on boys and children of a secondary school age," he told councillors.

"We feel it is unable to meet the needs of many of our children with additional learning needs and vulnerabilities."

However staff at the school say it plays a key role in helping some of the county's most vulnerable children.

A staff member, who did not wish to be named, said: "We as a staff care beyond measure about the young people we strive to help and feel passionately that the plans to close the school would be a devastating blow to them, their families and all of the stakeholders of our and other schools within the county."

A petition has also been set up against the closure, signed by more than 800 people.

The school has 21 pupils on roll, five from Monmouthshire and others from outside the county.

A council report says it is anticipated this number will fall to 12 on roll from September, with four from Monmouthshire.

The residential cost per pupil would then rise to around £232,000 for the council.

The meeting heard 'significant improvements' have been made at the school in recent years, with it moving from a red to a yellow category by Estyn.

Cllr John said the council would look "very carefully" at the responses to the public consultation.

Cllr Phil Murphy said other authorities were not bringing children forward for the school.

"If there was a demand from other authorities that made the facility viable we would not be in the position we are in now," he added.

Council leader, Cllr Peter Fox, said it was vital the council considered the best solutions for individual pupils going forward.

The six week consultation will begin on March 18.