Enhancing Education for Children with Special Needs
Plans to expand the provision of education for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) in South Tyneside are expected to take a step forward next week.
Members of the Cabinet are being recommended to agree the relocation of Epinay School in Jarrow to the site of the former South Shields School.
The move would allow more young people with special needs to attend school within the Borough and help meet rising demand for specialist places in South Tyneside.
Under the proposals, Epinay would be able to cater for 215 pupils. On its current site it has 175 pupils and there is no room for expansion. The plans would also mean that Epinay's sixth form, which is currently located on off-site rented premises, could be accommodated on the South Shields School site.
A report to councillors outlines that the building would require some re-modelling which would involve the creation of play areas and a primary provision as well as specialist rooms for children with diverse needs while the school is also keen to develop a woodland walk, animal centre, NVQ catering training provision and a rebound therapy room.
Phase two of the works would see some of the other buildings on the site used for complementary services.
Councillor Moira Smith, Lead Member for Children, Young People and Families, said: "We are committed to giving all our children and young people the best start in life. We know that we have a rising demand for specialist places in South Tyneside and this site will offer superb opportunities to help to address the shortfall in places for the children and young people who need them and to do more for our 16 - 25 year-olds with complex needs and disabilities.
"These proposals represent an opportunity for Epinay to deliver more efficiently and effectively while pupils and students across all age groups would be able to take advantage of the enhanced facilities. It would also result in additional local provision which would reduce the needs for students to travel outside of the Borough for their education."
Head Teacher, Chris Rue said: "We are very excited about the potential opportunities that this will give our children and young people. We are looking forward to working with all of our stakeholders to ensure all children get the very best education they can. The fact that we can increase our numbers will also be of good news to families with children with additional needs for future years to come."
The report highlights that the core use of the South Shields School site must be educational with the possibility of community use of some of the facilities.
A virtual meeting has already been held with Epinay governors, staff, parents, carers and pupils where there was very positive support for the potential move. Once the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, the Council will support the school in holding a series of meetings for those affected by the proposed move.
The matter will be discussed by the Cabinet next Wednesday (9 September).