Springfield centre reopened to take pupils of abuse-allegation school

Springfield Day Centre in Bideford is reopening to take pupils from Chelfham Mill School.

Up to 10 boys with special educational needs who attended the school have been found places at Springfield.

Chelfham near Barnstaple was closed in July pending an investigation into abuse.

Devon County Council said because there was a shortage of specialist places in North Devon, new provision had to be created.

A spokesman said: “We have a statutory and legal duty to ensure that these children can receive an education.

“The children that will attend Springfield are all from local families, and it means that they can receive an education within easy reach of their homes.”

The council has made urgent improvements to the building to make it suitable for educational use.

In a joint letter to local residents, council head of education and learning, Sue Clarke, and Councillor James McInnes, said: “I am aware that there have been rumours that the building is to be used for young offenders.

“I can assure you that this is not the case. Springfield has been set up for children with special needs who require specialist educational placements.

“These have been exceptional circumstances and we have had to put the needs and education of these few children first.

“That has meant that we have had to respond as a matter of urgency, and so doing have not been able to keep the local community informed as soon as we would have liked. I hope that you understand our good intentions.”