A PRIMARY school is set to become a base for providing extra help to pupils with behavioural, emotional and social difficulties (BESD).

Following a consultation process which ended on September 20, North Yorkshire County Council’s executive has agreed to press forward with making Thirsk Community Primary School an Enhanced Mainstream School for BESD pupils if there were no objections to a statutory notice.

Pete Dwyer, the council’s director of children and young people’s service, said a special educational needs review in 2006 had recognised special schools could not be reorganised before other provision was created in mainstream schools and through new pupil referral units.

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He said the county-wide changes were yet to be completed as the council had been unable to enter into an agreement with a primary school in Hambleton district following officers’ concerns that the schools did not offer a suitably strong model of inclusive practice.

Support services for BESD pupils at primary schools have been operating out of the Northallerton and Hambleton Pupil Referral Service, which has provided an outreach service to schools since September 2011.

However, the services being offered through the referral service do not extend to supporting children with particularly challenging behaviour where time away from their home school to receive intensive specialist teaching may be needed.

Consultation documents were sent to all parents of pupils at Thirsk Community Primary School, to staff, and to school governing bodies, as well as to councillors, early years providers and neighbouring schools.

Respondents said the proposals would provide valuable support and expertise to schools in the area and suggested existing support for BESD pupils in the area was spread thinly.

A meeting for parents at Thirsk Community Primary School, which operates a peer support initiative, heard a concern that some pupils might be confused by BESD children receiving special treatment, but a school spokesman said the children would receive a full explanation.

Councillors said the proposals represented the final piece in the jigsaw in the first phase of the authority’s drive to reorganise special schools.