STAFF and governors of a special school near Devizes have been left devastated by a Wiltshire Council decision to end funding for boarding.

It means that from the end of this term children at Rowdeford School, Rowde will no longer be able to have residential places from Monday to Friday during term time and 11 jobs will be made redundant.

Headteacher Mike Loveridge said that the final decision on the funding was not taken by the council until March 26 and until that point he and the governors had hoped there would be a change of heart.

He said: "The residential provision has been an integral part of Rowdeford School for many years providing students with the opportunity to develop important life skills and independence.

"Attending the residential provision has enabled very vulnerable young people to flourish academically and socially, grow in confidence and make excellent progress across the curriculum."

But Laura Mayes the cabinet member for children, education and skills said that the school was told three years ago that its funding agreement would end in 2018 and she said the £250,000 used to pay for the boarding places for 16 children could be better spent on other services.

She said: "What parents want has changed. A number of years ago they were more keen for children to be in residential placements but now the vast majority want their children to live at home."

She said that families that needed respite care for their children would be given places at Cannons House in Devizes or they could receive money from a short break scheme which provides £500 a year for children to go on trips or to pay for a carer to accompany a family holiday.

But Mr Loveridge said the boarding places would be badly missed. He said: "We believe that this Local Authority decision is at odds with the national and local recognition that the provision has received over the years, and does not take in to account the future needs of an ever-growing number of young people with special educational needs and disabilities.

"We are saddened that the decision to close our residential boarding provision is because of a lack of funding from central government and funding cuts from the local authority; this decision will undoubtedly put pressure on other services, which are already over stretched."