SOME of the most challenging children on the Island may soon be educated on a site next to a pre-school and nursery.
Until now, those children, some of whom have extreme behavioural problems, have been educated at expensive mainland units, costing the Isle of Wight Council hundreds of thousands of pounds a year.
But now the Isle of Wight Council is proposing the former Love Lane School site in Cowes be converted into a new secure school for those children and other youngsters with behaviour, social and emotional problems (BESD).
The education welfare service, mental health team and behaviour support team would also be based at the Cowes site, next to Little Love Lane Pre-School and Nursery and a SureStart centre for young children.
The new BESD unit, which will have 25 pupils of primary and secondary age, will be constructed as part of an educational shake-up, which will see Thompson House and Clatterford Tuition Centre relocate to the former Berry Hill Primary School site in Lake.
Steve Beynon, chief executive of the Isle of Wight Council, said: "The pupils who will attend are all Island children, who are either currently at Clatterford or Thompson House, or at mainland placements — which takes them away from their friends and families — or in mainstream schools without the support they require and possibly to the detriment of other pupils.
"The new unit would be properly secure and supervised and, in most cases, those attending would be provided with travel to and from the school."
He said the consultation would take place after the summer holidays.
But the proposal has been met by concerns from residents and the chairman of Little Love Lane Pre-school and Nursery, Ken Burns.
As reported previously, mother Wendi Hall said she was not being a NIMBY (not in my back yard).
"We just believe its being proposed for the wrong area."
Mr Burns said: "I was invited to a similar unit in Burnley, along with Caroline Sice, headteacher of Lanesend Primary.
"That had 12ft high fences. Children were taken to school and picked up by taxis and they weren’t allowed out during the school hours of 8.30am to 2.30pm.
"I have to question the appropriateness of locating a unit next to small children and babies. I don’t know of any other site in the UK where this happens," said Mr Burns, who said no planning application had been submitted.
If the proposals go ahead, the BESD Unit would open during the spring term in 2013.
The picture used with this story in the County Press newspaper today (Friday) was of Lanesend Primary School (formerly Somerton Middle School), not the former Love Lane Primary School.