Future of Send Provision in South Tyneside
Plans to expand the provision of education to children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) in South Tyneside will be discussed next week.
The future extension currently being explored could see Epinay School in Jarrow, which serves SEND children from across the entire borough, expand its provision and potentially move to a new home in South Shields.
This could see Epinay move to the site of the former South Shields School which will close this August. Although yet to be consulted on, this would enable more children with special needs to go to school within the Borough while there could also be space for a training centre for young people between the ages of 19 and 25.
Councillor Moira Smith, Lead Member for Children, Young People and Adults, said: "This is at a very early stage but I hope people see that this represents a real opportunity to improve provision for children and young people with special educational needs.
"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. We need to ensure that children and young people in South Tyneside have their needs met and are properly supported."
She added: "In order to give every child the best start in life, we are keen to increase resources to support all children and young people with SEND.
"We are at the very start of this journey but we will work with the whole school community at Epinay as we seek to achieve a positive outcome for our children."
A lack of specialist places means that some pupils with special needs currently have to go to school outside the Borough. However, the re-location of Epinay School to South Shields could allow additional places to be created.
Headteacher Mr Chris Rue said: "These discussions are at a very early stage but the potential re-location of the school could be extremely good news for families of children with SEND across the entire Borough.
"We know there is rising demand for places for children and young people with special educational needs. There is no room for expansion at our current site but by potentially re-locating to South Shields there is an opportunity to both expand and enhance the provision on offer."
Next steps will be discussed at a meeting of the Cabinet on Wednesday, 4 March.