Blind school reveals single campus plan

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THE Royal Blind School is to be merged into a single campus within the next two years following a drop in the number of pupils.

Charity Royal Blind currently operates the school across two campuses in Edinburgh – Craigmillar Park and Canaan Lane.

But these are now set to be consolidated on to a single campus at Canaan Lane in 2014, with residential hostels at Craigmillar Park retained until they are no longer needed – expected to be around 2016.

The charity said there will be “natural reductions through time as a result of retirements and people moving on”, adding that it will only resort to redundancy programmes where there is “no manageable alternative”.

Richard Hellewell, chief executive of Royal Blind, said: “The present facilities of the school allow us to accommodate over 120 pupils on two campuses, with more than half being at least part residential, and this is simply too big for our future needs.

“Therefore the school will be consolidated on a single campus at Canaan Lane. All present pupils will be able to remain at the school for the remainder of their school careers and receive the same high quality of education and care. We will continue to accept all pupils who are referred to the school.”

Current projections indicate that over the next eight years, the Royal Blind School will continue to reduce in size to a roll of around 25 pupils, of whom just over half will use residential facilities.

Although the pupil population at the school will become smaller, the school’s management team said it intends – in collaboration with other service providers – to diversify its services to become the national Visual Impairment Educational Resource Centre for Scotland.

Mr Hellewell added: “The school will become increasingly specialised in educating those pupils whom the local authorities continue to find difficult to place successfully in mainstream classes, such as those with a visual impairment who also have social, emotional and behavioural difficulties.

“We have an expert team of staff whom we value highly, but there will be natural reductions through time as a result of retirements and moving on.”

The merger into a single campus is dependent on the necessary planning and building warrant approvals being obtained from local authorities.