Plans to move two education support centres to new site in Letchworth

Hertfordshire: Plans to move two ‘education support centres’ to new site in Letchworth

Plans to move two ‘education support centres’ to new site in Letchworth - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Education chiefs have drawn-up plans to move two ‘education support centres’ in North Herts to a single site in Letchworth. 

The centres – or ESCs – are designed to support pupils in mainstream schools whose behaviour is giving ’cause for concern’. 

As well as offering outreach support to schools, they provide full time education for secondary age pupils who have been excluded, or who are ‘at risk’ of exclusion. 

Currently the council operates two ESCs in North Herts – in Bancroft, in Hitchin and in Briar Patch, in Letchworth.

Now, plans to close the existing sites and replace them with a purpose-built centre on a new site in Briar Patch Lane have been drawn up.

On Thursday last week, the plans were considered by a meeting of Herts County Council's education, libraries and lifelong learning cabinet panel. 

They should be backed by a further meeting of the county council's cabinet and will then be subject to public consultation. 

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According to education officials operating across the two existing sites creates "educational, financial and operational challenges". 

At the meeting operations director for education Simon Newland said the new site – which could be open as early as spring 2024 – would offer operational efficiencies and a better environment for the children. 

Members of the cabinet panel unanimously backed the proposals to consult. 

Executive member for education, libraries and localism Cllr Terry Douris pointed to the "absolutely vital role" of the ESCs. 

Liberal Democrat Cllr Mark Watkin stressed that he "absolutely signed up" to the value that the ESCs. 

Labour Cllr Judi Billing, a former governor of the ESC in North Herts, also supported the proposal – acknowledging that Hitchin town centre was a distraction for all young people and not just those attending the ESC. 

If the process is agreed by a future meeting of the cabinet, public consultation is expected to run between September 29 and November 2. 

Funding of up to £4.968m has already been allocated to the project, but specific costs would be considered following the outcome of the consultation.

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