THE latest position at Coombe House School will be discussed behind closed doors at a meeting next week.

The special school, which Dorset Council refers to as a ‘centre for excellence’ opened at Easter and then closed again within a couple of weeks – only to reopen again.

It is now shut for the summer holidays.

The school, near Shaftesbury, has seen several key staff resign and has suffered a number of complaints from parents, some of whom have told their story to the Dorset Echo because they were unhappy about what was available for their children.

Read more: Parents claim new Dorset school "isn't fit for purpose"

Some had said the opening was rushed before the school was fully ready although it had been delayed by supply chain and labour shortages at times during the transformation work.

A joint scrutiny committee will meet next Tuesday, July 19, to hear an update on the situation as the school prepares for the start of the September term when pupil numbers are expected to increase.

A council statement says the progress report to the meeting is being dealt with as exempt business, with the public and press excluded for a number of reasons:

“Most meetings of the council and its committees take place in public but sometimes it is necessary for councillors to meet in a closed session. This meeting will be a closed session for councillors only as the update may include information about individuals and children which for legal reasons must remain confidential. A public statement will be published following the meeting with details of the update. We continue to work closely with the families of children and young people who attend or have attended the school.”

Portfolio holder for education, Cllr Andrew Parry, has issued a statement in which he acknowledged that the school had suffered “a bumpy start” but said everything possible was being done to improve the situation.

Read more: Councillors being kept 'in the dark' about Coombe House School

“During the past few weeks, we have worked with a dynamic and changing situation at Coombe House School," he said.

"Starting a new special school often has its challenges as children and staff come together for the first time. There have been some problems on site with full completion of the contracted build. The school closed for a period of one week after a bumpy start. Since that time, most children have been in school for some set days each week. The school term ended in line with other independent schools on Friday 8 July.

“We have reviewed the plan for a small number of children to consider if Coombe House School can meet their needs at this time. As a result, their families have been written to advising that we are looking at a suitable education offer elsewhere. All these families have a single point of contact at the council, and they are being kept informed as to why we feel we need to make these changes.

Read more: Dorset Council respond to concerns over "unsafe and under-resourced" school

“Dorset Council has been providing day-to-day support to the staff, children and the Board. That work continues and involves other members of our special school system. Sean Kretz, the Headteacher of Westfield School, has stepped in to support Coombe House as a short-term measure, helping the teaching staff to prepare for the new term in September.

“Children and young people are at the heart of our decision making and we must make sure the school offers a first-class education. We are working hard to make sure that all children, families and staff have a better experience next term.”