PARENTS have formed a new group to ensure disabled children at a special school have the equipment and experiences they need to thrive.

The Friends of Green Fold will raise funds for pupils aged between five and 11 with disabilities including cerebral palsy, autism and the rare genetic disorder Phelan McDermid Syndrome.

Members of group, based at Green Fold Special School, in Farnworth, say budget cuts over recent years mean the school is only able to provide the services that are legally required.

Jeanette Horrocks is the school’s children and families officer and a member of the group’s committee.

She said: “Budgets have been cut so much and every time we want something with ‘special needs’ on the end of it, the price of everything doubles and that money isn’t there now. "

Ms Horrocks added that informal fundraising in the past had been used to pay for things such as trips out, but a group with a proper constitution and committee, was not needed.

She said: “Everything mandatory is provided, but we can’t always get those added extras. This is why we feel this is needed for significant things from which our children would really benefit.”

Ms Horrocks continued: “Some of the more challenging children like playing outside, it doesn’t matter what the weather is like, they need to run that energy off.

“All weather gear will benefit them but it doesn’t necessarily come out of school budgets.”

One example of the toll taken by ever-falling funding was the scrapping of the week-long summer school this year - the first time in more than two decades.

One of the main aims of the group is to run the summer school again next year. In order to to do this they will need to raise in the region of £4,000.

Ms Horrocks said: “In the summer holidays, six weeks is a long time for families and with children who are in such a routine, it can become quite difficult.

“We always had a summer school that was mainly funded by external services like the council, but the money has dried up.”

She added: “It’s such a shame, and I know it’s really impacted on families not being able to access it.”

Committee member Melanie Gilkes, whose son goes to the school, said: “It’s such a big school holiday and gives him the routine – the same school bus, same school – it helps break that six weeks up and helps when he goes back to school in September.”

Another priority for the group is to install a projector at the school’s hydrotherapy pool, to cast lights, colours and pictures on the walls around it.

The pool helps children with physical disabilities to retain their range of movement, while for those with behavioural issues, it can provide either a calming or stimulating environment.

Jo Brown, chair of the group and also a teacher at the school, said: “It can be a distracter or a motivator, or a calming influence.

“Lights can change the environment to suit children. And music can do the same sort of things to help adjust the environment.”

She added: “If we are able to attract a more substantial donor or a sponsor to help provide these sort of things it would benefit a lot of people. It would almost be life changing.”