§ Jacqui Smith
[holding answer 20 November 2000]: Some 130 special schools have closed since 1 May 1997. This includes at least 11 special schools whose closure was approved before that date. It also includes 15 schools whose closure has been approved but has not yet taken place. Twenty-two of these schools were failing schools.
The closure of special schools is often part of a larger reorganisation of provision for children with special educational needs, which may consist of the opening of other special schools, or the establishment of special units within mainstream schools. The pupils from a closing special school will transfer to another school which can meet their needs—whether that be another special school, a special unit or appropriately supported in a mainstream school.
In January there were 93,018 pupils in such schools; in January 2000 there were 91,708, a reduction of 1.4 per cent.
Since 1 September 1999, proposals for opening, closing or making alterations to schools have been determined by local School Organisation Committees rather than by the Secretary of State. These committees are made up of representatives of the local education authority, local primary, secondary and special schools and others.