PARENTS of children with special educational needs have vowed to fight against the council’s plan to shut down three special schools and open a new one in Rowde.

The decision will see Larkrise School in Trowbridge and St Nicholas School in Chippenham close in 2023 and a centre of excellence built on the site where Rowdeford School is currently in Rowde, near Devizes.

Petitions created by staff and parents from Rowdeford and Larkrise attracted 8,300 and 3,311 signatures respectively, all bidding to keep the schools open as they are.

However, the council voted unanimously to approve the centre for excellence proposal.

Speaking to the council, Cabinet member for children, Cllr Laura Mayes, said: “This will be a series of small facilities on a fantastic site in the heart of the community, this will not be a super school. If we do nothing we would be failing in our duty to ensure there are enough places for children with special educational needs.

Concerns about the level of funding were raised by Trowbridge councillor Graham Payne who said the £20m figure would not be enough to fund the project if it went ahead.

Phil Cook, head teacher of Larkrise said: “A passion for social inclusion drives our school, last year we carried out 1300 off site visits. This cannot be achieved in just a school setting.”

Linda Bell launched a petition that gained thousands of signatures to save Larkrise school. She said: “Has anyone on the cabinet taken the time to experience what our children have to go through on the long routes to school? You are putting land and money over education and it is a disgrace.”

The final decision on the future of the schools will be made in March.