Council education chiefs have embarked on an urgent drive to hire new staff for a special needs school which has been partially closed for nearly three weeks.

And they hope to ensure all pupils will be able to return after the half-term break.

Five members of staff have been hired in the last week for St Luke’s School, which educates pupils with a range of behavioural and educational needs, and where 30 of the usual 69 pupils were still out of classes last week. Some children will miss five weeks of classes.

Peter Nathan, Swindon Borough Council’s Head of Education, said: “The situation at St Luke’s is far from ideal but there is a great deal of work going on behind the scenes to get things back to normal.

“Five new members of staff were recruited last week and they will start at the school after half-term.

“More pupils are being integrated back into the school and those that are not yet back at St Luke’s are continuing to receive home tuition or support at home.”

Council officials also confirmed that the school was partially closed on the recommendation of the White Horse Federation, an external trust whose members were concerned that keeping the school open could pose a safety risk.

It followed a restructuring of staffing in the school in the last academic year, with the number of teachers and teaching assistants in classrooms reportedly reduced.

Nearly half the school’s teaching staff – 13 out of 30 – reportedly left at the end of the last academic year.

Among them were the headteacher – who left for a promotion under a different local authority – the deputy headteacher, and the school’s most senior teaching assistant.

The restructure followed the placing of the school into special measures in November 2016, after which it was required to become an academy.

The concerns were raised three weeks into the new term, and the school was first closed to the majority of pupils on September 21, with parents given less than a day’s notice.

While some pupils only missed two days of schooling, other have continued to miss lessons, with some transferred to other schools and others receiving work packs.