Walsall pupil referral unit to get temporary building
Children attending a Walsall referral unit for troubled pupils are set to move to temporary buildings ahead of the building of a brand new school.
Walsall Council’s cabinet is expected to rubber stamp a proposal to spend £850,000 to provide facilities for pupils of the New Leaf Centre, at a meeting next Wednesday.
The plan is to send 60 children and 34 members of staff to the Stroud Avenue Family Centre and Spindle Tree Rise Children’s Home in Willenhall, which will be refurbished to ensure it meeds the needs.
In 2018, New Leaf was the subject of a damning Ofsted report after shocked inspectors witnessed children swearing at each other, fire alarms being set off and youngsters attempting to smash through locked doors.
They also highlighted that the buildings were in poor condition and not fit for purpose – ordering the local authority to take immediate action.
As part of the recovery plan, Walsall Council’s cabinet agreed to fund a £7.5 million new purpose-built home at the former Educational Support Centre at Field Road, Bloxwich, and the adjacent former Pinfold Centre in Field Close.
But, in the meantime, temporary facilities will have to be provided until the new centre to replace the inadequate existing building in Rushall is completed in two years time.
A planning application has been submitted to change the use of the Willenhall children’s home facilities into the pupil referral unit.
Work to refurbish the buildings, created a multi-use games area and redesign the car park – with the work estimated to cost £850,000.
A report to cabinet said: “Cabinet approved a proposal to create a new build for the long-term solution for the New Leaf; however, this scheme is not estimated to be completed before September 2022.
“As the current site can no longer be used effectively to support the educational needs of the pupils – particularly with the Ofsted report detailing urgent steps must be taken to ensure all pupils are taught in a safe environment – it is crucial that a short-term measure is put into place.”
A decision on the planning application is expected next month and work will take between six to eight weeks to complete.
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