Massive Investment for Young People with Special Educational Needs
A massive investment has been made for children with special educational needs in South Tyneside with the opening of a re-designed and enhanced school on a new site.
Featuring state-of-the-art facilities, Epinay Business and Enterprise School will open on the site of the former South Shields School which closed in 2020.
The Council has invested £1.9m in the project which has seen buildings adapted and refurbished to ensure suitability for its new learners. This is further evidence that the Council is delivering on its priority of supporting young people in need.
Work carried out by Meldrum Construction and partners has seen significant refurbishment of a number of existing classrooms and teaching areas, a new café, kitchen and food tech facility and a new early year's hub including shower area.
A number of new educational features have been installed, including a new rebound therapy room with trampolines and matting, a sensory light area and a specialist ball-pit.
Outside, an early years play area features specialist items such as a bug hotel, sand-pit, water-wall, mud kitchen and a climbing wall. A woodland walk with a timber pergola, mud kitchen and bird hide will also be provided.
Chris Rue, headteacher at the school, said: "This is a very exciting time for our children, parents and carers and the entire school community. We are committed to giving our pupils the very best learning experience. We can hardly wait to move into this fantastic learning environment.
"My vision for the school is that we use the move of site to further propel our expectations and offer children with additional needs an outstanding education that they excel in. I would like to thank our governing board and the local authority for all their time and efforts in making this possible for our children, this will be life changing for them in so many ways."
The re-location of the school from its base in Jarrow means that more children with special education needs can now be taught within South Tyneside, instead of having to travel outside the Borough for their education. The move also means that more children with a greater range of special needs can be taught on the new site.
Councillor Adam Ellison, Lead Member for Children, Young People and Families, said: "Epinay Business and Enterprise School provides an 'Outstanding' education to our young people. I am delighted that from September pupils will be on site and learning in this new environment, and whilst it is a real change, it opens up many new opportunities for learning.
"In South Tyneside the number of children with Education Health and Care Plans has almost doubled since 2015 and the Borough has higher levels of children needing support than nationally.
"I wish the young people, staff, governors and whole school community well as they embrace this new chapter."
The additional space on the new site also means that Epinay's sixth form, which was formerly located on off-site rented premises, now has its own dedicated space on the new site for its 32 young adults.
Chair of Governors, Councillor Audrey Huntley, added: "I can't wait for the children to move into this new site and just see what they can achieve. This new site will become a benchmark for just what young people with special educational needs can achieve when you put them first."