MP fights for special needs college future

Joseph Bulmer

Nick Harvey takes Heddon College’s case up with Children and Families Minister

NORTH Devon MP, Nick Harvey is urging Ministers to intervene to save a Barnstaple college for special needs teenagers.

Heddon College, the post-16 area of Lampard Community School, is set to close at the end of term following confirmation that funding is no longer available.

Mr Harvey is urging the Department of Education to take over funding for the College, and believes the college could prove a useful model for the rest of the country.

He said he was able to raise the issue with Children and Families Minister, Sarah Teather at a meeting about education issues in North Devon last week.

“Heddon has an excellent attendance rate and provides opportunities for those who might otherwise not be in any form of education, employment or training,” said Mr Harvey.

“I believe that the Government should step in to ensure that the college can continue. Not only does Heddon provide an excellent service for local students, it is the sort of scheme that should be encouraged elsewhere in the country.

“The Minister was receptive to the points that I raised and she assured me that education officials in Westminster will contact Heddon College and look closely at the excellent opportunities provided.”

In March, the Gazette revealed how the college faced closure after funding from Devon County Council was withdrawn, and an application to become an Independent Specialist Provider was turned down by the Young People’s Learning Agency (YPLA).

The college was set up in partnership with the county council in 2009 as a pilot project for 16-19-year-old students with complex learning and medical difficulties, such as autism and cerebral palsy. It provides vocational and social skills training and has been praised by local schools, parents and students alike.