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(UK) Northumberland: 50 more places for kids with ASD

Updated: Sep 5, 2022

Sept 1, 2022, Northumberland Gazette: Two-tier schools structure in Amble and creation of new SEND hub proposed by council

NE England Northumberland County Council has already approved a £25.5m [$29M] investment in the Coquet Partnership, including the replacement or refurbishment of James Calvert Spence College (JCSC).

But before committing to such a major investment, an informal public consultation took place on the future structure of the school system in the partnership.

An overwhelming 92% of respondents said they believed a two-tier structure would deliver the best outcomes for young people.

There was also widespread support for proposals to create 50 new places for young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) by building a new satellite site of Barndale House Special School on the current JCSC South Avenue site that would open in September 2024.
The new SEND hub would cater primarily for those with autism, social emotional and mental health needs, speech language and communication and moderate learning difficulties.

It would also provide support to all the Coquet Partnership schools offering continuous professional development for staff, intervention and outreach support into mainstream schools.

A report based on the findings of the informal consultation will now go before councillors on Thursday, September 8 to ask that the proposals can be taken to statutory consultation.

Councillors will also be asked to increase the budget for the project by £11.1m from £25.5m to £36.6m in order to deliver the capital investment required for all schools.

Cllr Guy Renner-Thompson, cabinet member for children’s services, said: “An overwhelming 92% of respondents thought that the two-tier model will deliver the best outcomes for our young people and create a viable education system for the future.

“Expanding Barndale House Special School by building a new SEND hub in Amble will also enable more young people to have their needs met as close to their local communities as possible.

“We’ve got fantastic schools here in the county and we want them to have first-class facilities to match.”

Audrey Kingham, interim joint director of children’s services, added: “This is a really exciting time for education in Northumberland.

“Before we make this major investment, we want to make sure we have the school system that is right for the community.

“The informal public consultation showed widespread support for the two-tier model and for expanding SEND provision.

“It is clear that the schools in the partnership are all committed to working together and to do what is best for the young people in Amble and the surrounding areas.”………


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