A NEW school for nine to 18-year-olds with special educational needs is readying to open in Shelf in September.

Specialist education provider, Witherslack Group, is currently converting a large office building at Shelf Mills, Wade House Road, into a day school for up to 60 pupils.

The firm already runs two schools and a vocational training centre in the Wakefield area - which are full - and has identified the need for a new specialist day facility in the area.

The group, which works with local authorities in the region, already takes children from all the West Yorkshire authorities.

It gained planning permission earlier this year to convert the former Interface office complex across two buildings and is part of the wider Shelf Industrial Estate. The new school is for 60 pupils with special educational needs and will be called Millcourt School.

In a letter to local residents, Julie Taylor, operations director at Witherslack Group said they wanted to let neighbours know a little more about their plans and would normally have held a meeting, but the extended lockdown has prevented it.

"You will probably not have heard of our company before but we are long established and highly successful in caring for and educating children and young people with special educational needs.

"Our specialist schools and children’s homes offer truly outstanding environments for young people to thrive and realise their potential.

"We are extremely proud of our track record of achieving the highest possible outcomes, which are realised through our unique level of aspiration for every child – to us everything is possible for our young people and we succeed where other education and care providers fail.

"Upon completion of the redevelopment work, we will open a brand new educational provision named Millcourt School and I understand that you may have lots of questions about how this will take shape, how it will operate and if and how it may impact upon the immediate area.

"I can assure you that our proud record of successful outcomes for our young people is matched by our record of being excellent neighbours across all the communities we serve. We always endeavour to play an active role and positively contribute to each and every local community in which we operate."

In documents submitted to Calderdale Council as part of the change of use application, it states: “Therefore, Witherslack requires additional facilities for West Yorkshire and determined that a school in this area would give them a facility on the western side of the sub-county and help to place children closer to their homes.

“This is needed to provide for the identified growing need and to reduce the travel times for pupils. By creating a more sustainably acceptable arrangement for children with specialist educational needs, the siting of a specialist school at Halifax would be highly desirable.”