Friday, 14 March 2014

Death-knell for Seafield School

Social care charity Quarriers has confirmed the closure of Seafield School in Ardrossan.

A further two North Ayrshire children’s homes – Merton House in Largs and Williamfield in Irvine – will also close their doors for the last time. In total, 69 workers are currently employed at the three sites.

Quarriers say Seafield was no longer “financially viable” and that the facilities in Largs and Irvine largely provide support to children on placements at the Ardrossan school.

Local MP Katy Clark expressed her disappointment at the announcement, saying, “We have known that Quarriers has been considering the drastic step of closing the North Ayrshire facilities since January, and it was hoped that a plan could be put in place to prevent this [but] there has been a lack of political will in the public sector to use these types of service.”

Ms Clark said Quarriers provide “exceptionally high quality care” but that “local authorities no longer seem to want the form of school being offered, particularly in light of some historic scandals”.

The Labour MP for North Ayrshire & Arran added, “Increasingly, fewer children were being placed at Seafield by local authorities despite the quality of care and the steps taken by staff to try and save the school. I know the unions UNISON and EIS, who represent staff at the facilities, were both pushing hard for Quarriers to provide alternative business plans, and to lobby local authorities and the Scottish Government but this apparently failed to materialise.”

For Quarriers, acting Chief Executive Alice Drife said, “After carefully considering a number of alternative options for Seafield School in Ardrossan and two children's homes - Merton House in Largs and Williamfield in Irvine - we are reluctantly announcing the closure of the three services.

"We do understand this will be a difficult time for everyone associated with the services. However, we have been unable to put Seafield on a sustainable financial footing. As the two children's homes support some children at the school these will sadly also close.”

The charity indicated that, by the end of this month, Seafield will have accumulated a deficit of more than £400,000.

Ms Drife said the charity’s policy is to redeploy staff, where possible, and support those who will need to find alternative work. The acting Chief Executive noted, “Quarriers would not have made this decision if there had been a viable alternative.”

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