HEARTFELT pleas have been made from teachers and councillors urging Monmouthshire council not to close a special needs school.

The county council is consulting on closing Mounton House School in Pwllmeyric, Chepstow, which caters for boys aged 11-16 with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties from Monmouthshire and elsewhere.

Council bosses say the school only has seven Monmouthshire pupils on roll, equating to a cost of £114,000 per placement.

But at a Chepstow town council meeting on Wednesday, two long-standing teachers at the school made pleas for it to be protected.

"Our concern is the cost to the lives of the pupils we are teaching," one teacher said.

"Without the provision we offer they are not going to be able to succeed in the way they can now.

"If they leave our provision and potentially go back into a mainstream or a private setting they are not going to be provided with the same facilities."

Monmouthshire council has not said what alternative provision would be given to pupils were the school to close.

Will McLean, chief officer of children and young people, has said setting out alternatives could make it appear a "pre-determined" decision to close the school has been made.

But teachers say parents are 'mortified' by the proposal and pupils 'distraught.'


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One said: "This has sent all of the boys into a spin.

"We are trying to catch them and keep them safe but we do not have the answers ourselves."

Many pupils have made significant progress at the specialist school, having found it difficult elsewhere, the meeting heard.

The second teacher said: "We have got a boy in Year 8 who lives with his grandmother.

"He is absolutely distraught because he has failed in every other place he has been to and he is absolutely adamant he is not going to another school."

The teacher said that to think pupils would be able to go back into a mainstream setting and succeed was 'nonsensical.'

"The lives of these children are going to be damaged significantly," he said.

Town councillors vowed to fight the proposed closure "to the bitter end" at the meeting.

Cllr Dale Rooke said the school was a 'godsend' for his nephew, who has now gone on to complete a construction course at college.

"Not a single school here is set up to be able to manage any of the problems that these children have," he said.

Cllr David Dovey, a former chair of governors, said the school was "a by-word for everything that was excellent" in caring for pupils with special needs while he was there.

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"The school is indispensable and it has a huge heritage," he added.

And Cllr Armand Watts said he was concerned expertise would be "thrown away," adding the town council would fight to save the school "to the bitter end."

A spokesman for Monmouthshire council said: "The council’s Cabinet agreed on Wednesday March  to consult on the closure of Mounton House Special School.

"That consultation exercise will start on  March 18 and close on April 29.

"This is an open exercise in which we wish to hear from all relevant stakeholders as to the future of Mounton House Special School. During this exercise there will be no change in the services that are offered at the school.

"We’re pleased that Chepstow Town Council has taken the opportunity to discuss the matter and we look forward to receiving its views. 

"No one from Monmouthshire County Council was invited to the meeting so we’re currently unable to comment specifically on its findings."