Merton Council has announced that a number of new school places for children with special educational needs and disabilities could be created in an empty school building in Raynes Park.

On Tuesday ( June 22), the Council’s Cabinet agreed to publish proposals to consult on expanding Melrose School in Mitcham, onto an additional site in Whatley Avenue, Raynes Park. 

This proposal would enable the new provision to open from September 2022, eventually providing 80 places.

The former adult education building in Whatley Avenue was temporarily used by the new secondary school, Harris Academy Wimbledon, before it moved to its permanent site in South Wimbledon in autumn 2020.

Council authorities said that although they have expanded special schools in recent years, they have been unable to keep up with the increasing demand for children with SEND, particularly those with autism spectrum disorder.

This Is Local London: Merton CouncilMerton Council

Merton Council’s Joint Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Children and Education, Councillor Eleanor Stringer, said: “There is an urgent need to provide more school places for the increasing number of pupils with special educational needs and disabilities, especially children with autism spectrum disorder, whose complex needs means they need educating outside of our mainstream schools.

"We want fewer children with these needs to have to travel outside the borough for their education.

“Whatley Avenue is a former school building which could be quickly adapted to meet the needs of a significant number of pupils who need extra support with their learning.

"Using this site to educate pupils with special education needs and disabilities will benefit these children and their families. 

"I’m glad that the building can continue to play a vital role in education in Merton.”