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Special needs students to lose pool
CHILDREN at a special needs school could be left without their much loved swimming pool due to council cuts.
Stockton’s Abbey Hill School and Technology College is likely to lose its on-site swimming pool as a result of council funding being withdrawn.
According to staff, the pool plays a significant part in the lives of the pupils at the school, teaching them basic life skills such as the ability to dress and undress, as well as allowing them to exercise and socialise.
Janet White, whose daughter Sarah, 15, is a pupil at the school with Down’s Syndrome, said: “This will be devastating. The pool gives Sarah a place to socialise safely and has helped her to become more independent. She will be extremely upset.”
Colin Whittaker, chair of the Governing Body for the Stockton Borough First Federation, which looks after Abbey Hill, said: “This would be a definite loss for our students. We could use other community facilities but they are not ideal.
"To get our pupils on and off buses and changed would take up half a day and that is before anyone has even touched water.
“We do not blame the council for this and have been working very closely with them but it is a sad predicament.”
Stockton Borough Council previously provided the school with £60,000 a year to manage the pool and gym facilities but that funding is now being withdrawn.
Mr Whittaker said: “Without that money we cannot run the pool. If we took the money needed out of the school budget, something else would have to suffer.”
A council spokesman said: “In previous years, the swimming pool at Abbey Hill School was used widely by the council's Youth Service and Primary Swimming Programme, however, use for these purposes has ceased.
"It is proposed that the associated funding will not continue. It is now mainly used by the school itself along with a small number of local groups, and they cannot afford to run this facility.
"We will work with the school and other groups to ensure they can make the best use of the first class swimming facilities across the borough.”