Sudden closure of children’s care home

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A children’s home in Chorley, which looks after youngsters with behavioural difficulties, has closed suddenly.

The private White House Park, on Chorley Road, Withnell, cares for seven girls, aged between 11 and 17, with emotional and educational problems.

But the school, owned by Ridgway Children’s Services, shut its doors this week.

The company also has centres in North Yorkshire and Silverdale, near Lancaster.

The home in Silverdale closed without warning two weeks ago, and it is not known whether the site in Yorkshire has been affected.

A shocked local resident said: “I just worry what will happen to the children.”

When the Chorley Guardian contacted the Ridgway head office in Blackburn, a member of staff confirmed the closure.

All calls were directed to the chair of the company, but he was out of the country and unavailable for comment.

According to Companies House, Ridgway Children’s Services went into liquidation in February.

Our sister paper, the Lancaster Guardian, reported that two of the company’s directors, John Dixon Bolton and Joseph Foster, gave notice in the London Gazette earlier this year that they would be carrying on the business under the name Ridgway Park School Limited – trading as Ridgway Children’s Services Limited.

The local resident, who did not wish to be named, said: “I believe the children’s home has closed and the children will have to move.

“There is a lot of staff who work there so that is obviously a concern, too. I have no idea what will happen to them. It is quite a big place and I have seen lots of cars coming and going lately.

“This sort of thing is just a sign of the times.

“I’ve seen a lot of people working there and they work very hard.”

When a reporter visited the children’s home, the entrance gates were locked.

In their most recent Ofsted report, published in 2008, inspectors said: “The quality of education has declined since the last inspection. This is now inadequate because the curriculum fails to provide the right opportunities to help pupils make progress and assessment information is not used sufficiently to ensure that pupils are taught the right things.

“The new school staff, led by an acting headteacher, have already created a positive ethos in which pupils are now beginning to enjoy their learning.”

The news comes as it was announced five of Lancashire County Council’s 15 children’s homes are set to close on a phased basis.

The homes will not include ones in Chorley.

County Coun Susie Charles, cabinet member for children and schools, said: “In Lancashire, we have twice as many teenagers in residential care homes as in other similar authorities.

“We want to reduce that number because we do not believe that this is always the best environment for a young person. Instead, we intend to give families early support before the point at which relationships break down.”