A SCHOOL for children with special educational needs is hoping to offer “hands-on” vocational training at a nearby business park.

Cumberland School in Blackrod is looking to turn a warehouse at Rivington View Business Park into teaching rooms with a gym, common room and cafe.

A planning application to use the empty unit, last used for the storage and distribution of medical-related products, as a second site for the school has been submitted by parent company Witherslack Group Ltd.

Head teacher Christopher Newiss said: “We are really excited about the potential to further expand the opportunities available to our pupils through the introduction of a vocational centre.

“This new addition follows the recent construction of a ‘Cruyff Court’ on the main school grounds, which was developed in partnership with the Cruyff Foundation and which will offer a fantastic space for sporting and recreational activity.

“Everyone at Cumberland School is committed to providing the very best education and support to all of our young people and the proposed vocational centre will allow us to deliver a wide range of courses to equip each pupil with the skills and qualifications to step confidently into their chosen career and life beyond school.”

The day school in Rivington Lane provides education for children aged 11 to 16 with a variety of special educational needs.

The proposal is to split the facility, moving the older Key Stage 4 children in Years 10 and 11, to the new unit where they can study core subjects and undertake a wider vocational training programme, gaining a range of qualifications by the time they leave to help them achieve employment.

This will also free up space in the existing school which means the entry age can be lowered to include Key Stage 2 children in Years 5 and 6.

The unit was previously used by Medicina Ltd which used four separate buildings at Rivington View Business Park.

But the company now has too much space for its operational needs and can operate successfully from three buildings at the business park.

The landlords of the unit have also confirmed they will actively encourage other occupiers to engage with the school to create potential work experience opportunities for the young people to participate in, helping them to become “job ready” when they leave the school.

The new school site will operate in a “completely self-contained manner” that will have no impact upon the operations of the rest of the business park, according to the planning application.

Each child would spend all of their day permanently at one site or the other.

It also argues that approving the proposed development, would negate the requirement to extend the existing school which is set within the green belt.

Witherslack Group is the UK’s leading provider of specialist education and care for young people and young people with a range of special needs including, communication difficulties – autistic spectrum conditions, Asperger’s Syndrome, speech, language and communication needs – and complex learning needs.

Bolton Council is due to decide the outcome of the application by mid May.