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Plans to close special schools for children with moderate learning difficulties

Plans to close special schools for children with moderate learning difficulties also face legal challenges.

Parents in Gloucestershire have formed an action group to fight proposals to close all four of the authority's schools for children who suffer from moderate learning difficulties (MLD), and to stop a fifth school catering for these youngsters.

Education and Employment Secretary David Blunkett has already faced an unsuccessful judicial review attempting to reverse the closure of MLD schools in Newcastle.

MLD schools, by definition catering for more moderate specia needs, are looking increasingly vulnerable to closure as a result of national and local policies favouring the inclusion of more special needs children in mainstream schools.

But the heads say their schools cater for children with more complex needs than the traditional MLD label suggests, such as autism, dyslexia and behavioural difficulties.

In Bolton, an MLD school is to move into new buildings on the site of a mainstream school. The school, rated "outstanding" by inspectors, will be renamed Rumworth.

See www.dfee.gov.uksen for copies of the draft code.

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