THE dad of an 11-year-old boy with autism and epilepsy says he is “appalled, angry and shocked” that the special needs school his son attends is set to close.

Crossley Manor School is an independent special school in Rainhill which educates pupils aged between five and 19 with special educational needs, including autistic spectrum conditions.

This week it was announced that due to a lack of “sufficient numbers of pupils” the school will close at the end of term.

It is understood 11 pupils, aged between 6 and 16, will then have to find alternative education venues.

One pupil is Christopher Lunt from Sutton Manor who has autism and epilepsy.

His parents found it difficult to place him in a special school due to his complex needs and, after leaving mainstream education, he was made to wait nine months before being accepted to Crossley Manor last September.

Dad Steve Lunt, 50 from Haydock, said Christopher had made significant strides at the school and he fears the closure will put him “back to where he started”.

He said: “Christopher had lots of problems in mainstream school and went to a couple before being excluded as they couldn’t meet his needs.

“Special schools like Lansbury Bridge were not suitable for him either, so when he finally got a place at Crossley Manor after a nine month wait where he had no schooling, we were made up.

“He fell behind in school after having time off for being treated for his epilepsy, then with the nine months added on to that he was quite behind.

“But the staff at Crossley Manor have worked really hard with him and he’s now settled and doing really well. He feels comfortable which for someone with autism is really important.

“So when I got a call to say that the school was closing I was appalled, angry and shocked because this is just going to set Christopher right back to where he started.

“I completely understand it’s not the staff’s problem, I imagine many of them will be out of a job too, but I’m shocked that they’ve not been able to get enough support.

“The local authorities need to send children to great schools like this, because if they don’t have the numbers they can’t stay open.

“This is going to be a massive upheaval for Christopher and both myself and his mum wish something could be done to save the school.”

A member of staff who wishes to remain anonymous, added: “We received the shocking news that they are making us redundant and are closing the school as they feel we are not financially viable.

“You would be forgiven to believe that this will be done in a planned way to meet the best interests of the young people but you would be wrong as we close at the end of this academic year and are entering a 30 day consultation period."

A spokesperson for Elysium Healthcare, which run Crossley Manor, added: “It is with great reluctance that we have come to the decision to close Crossley Manor School.

“For the past two years school staff have worked tirelessly to make the school a success and build the roll of pupils.

“Unfortunately, we were unable to attract sufficient pupils. We are now focused on supporting local authorities, families and students to find the best alternative placement before the new school term commences in September.”