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School closure will see loss of 100 jobs
2:00pm Thursday 14th February 2013 in News
MORE than 100 jobs will be lost in Chipping Norton after one of the town’s biggest employers announced it is closing.
Action for Children has announced that it has decided to close Penhurst School following a consultation with families involved and the local community.
The historic building in New Street currently supports 13 children and young people with profound disabilities but needs 24 fulltime residents to make it viable.
The school employs 104 members of staff and has been in the town for a century.
Barbara Street, operational director of children’s services at Action for Children, said the school would close in May.
“After considering with the greatest of care a full range of alternative options and feedback from staff, families and the local community, we are very reluctantly and sadly announcing the closure of Penhurst School ,” she said.
“We fully understand that many people will be saddened by this decision, but despite our best efforts the school has become unsustainable.
“The number of children has been steadily falling and the school ran a substantial deficit last year.
“We are currently working with local authorities so that these children and young people find high-quality alternative placements that can meet their needs.
“We will also ensure that our staff are fully supported.
We would not have made this decision if we had any viable alternative.”
Chipping Norton Mayor Martin Jarrett said: “It’s a very sad day for the town and I feel very sorry for all those people being made redundant.
“The children’s home has been there for 100 years but I think everybody realised it was no longer viable.”
Action for Children opened Penhurst as a children’s home in 1904 for 100 youngsters. It provided accommodation and training for older girls who had been transferred from the East End of London.
In 1953 the home was given over entirely to looking after children with severe physical disabilities and a hospital was added.
The school was rebuilt in 1970 and an extended education unit added in 1984.
Since the early 1990s Penhurst has been a school for children with profound and multiple learning difficulties.