May 15, 2023, Chronicle Live: 'Essential' expansion of Newcastle special school planned to cope with rising pressure for places https://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/essential-expansion-newcastle-special-school-26918727
A special school in Newcastle is set for a major expansion, in a bid to keep up with rapidly escalating demand for places.
Plans have been revealed for a redevelopment project to boost capacity at Thomas Bewick School, which provides specialist provision for children and young people with autism from ages three to 19.
The move comes after warnings that more than 300 more school places for autistic youngsters will be needed in Newcastle over the coming years, with Newcastle City Council having previously stated that a completely new special school will need to be built.
New plans lodged with Newcastle City Council would see six new classrooms built for Thomas Bewick School, on what is currently a derelict section of the adjacent former All Saints College.
The expansion into a new block would give the school, in West Denton, space for between 48 and 56 extra pupils when the work is completed.
Documents lodged with the council say that the proposals are “essential for Thomas Bewick to expand their facilities and improve their offer to children and young people in the region with special educational needs”. Last year, council education boss Mark Patton warned councillors that there was a “very real” pressure on special school places in the city.
The number of pupils in Newcastle identified with special educational needs has jumped from 6,262 in 2016/17 to 6,618 in 2020/21, while the number of autistic youngsters enrolled at Thomas Bewick has risen from 53 when it opened in 1999 to more than 300 now. If approved, the expansion plans at Thomas Bewick would see three new classrooms built by September this year – with another three to follow….
“As a result of pressure for specialist school places, 24 extra places were created for Thomas Bewick school at Site 2B in the former All Saints block which is referred to as phase 1 of the works. The continuing anticipated growth within the school means that spaces for a further 48 to 56 pupils are required at this site to be accommodated within the currently vacant block of the former All Saints School.”
In March 2022, Mr Patton said that building a new special school in Newcastle would take three to five years at a “conservative” estimate.