SENIOR councillors have voted unanimously to move ahead with the closure of a special school in its 50th anniversary year.

Monmouthshire Council Cabinet members decided to go ahead with the contentious proposal to close the school, in Pwllmeyric, near Chepstow, which was opposed by 88 per cent of those who responded to a public consultation.

The school – which caters for boys aged 11-16 with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties – is now set to close at the end of August next year, 50 years on from its foundation in 1970.

Council bosses say the school is no longer in a “fit for purpose condition” and does not meet the needs of a wide enough range of county pupils with additional learning needs.

At the cabinet meeting last Wednesday (September 18), council leader, Cllr Peter Fox, said closing the school would allow the authority to plan for a wider provision in the future.

Cllr Fox said the school is currently “not sustainable and not in the interests of those few learners there.”

“Sometimes you do have to take these very difficult decision,” Cllr Fox said.

Will McLean, chief officer for children and young people, provided assurances that the 15 pupils at the school would be provided with specialist education.

Those at Key Stage 3 will be placed in specialist provision, while the council’s Pupil Referral Unit will meet the needs of Key Stage 4 pupils.

Cllr Richard John, Cabinet member for children and young people, said the school’s remit is “no longer compatible with the needs of Monmouthshire.”

With just eight pupils from Monmouthshire attending, Cllr John said the cost equates to £131,000 per placement for the local authority.

Cllr Bob Greenland said economic arguments were “secondary” and his decision was based on “what is best for the children there at the moment and as we move forward.”

“No one likes to see a school closing but I think it has outlived its purpose,” he said.

“I think we can do better for the children with additional learning needs right across the spectrums in the future than the current way.”

But Cllr Tudor Tho-mas, chairman of the council’s children and young people select committee, urged the cabinet to consider changing the type of provision at the school.

He said changes should have been made earlier, and staff had been “almost set up to fail.”

A plan to expand provision at Mounton was abandoned last year due to estimated costs of £6.4m.

Notice of the school’s closure, on August 31, 2020, will now be published.