(UK) South Shields: $2.3M to move special school to reduce out-of-area placements

July 16, 2021, ChronicleLive: Council makes decision on South Shields special needs school move NE England

A school for children with special needs is set to move into a closed former education complex, following a decision by council bosses this week. South Shields School, in Nevinson Avenue, closed its doors last year after it was rated ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted in 2017 and failed to win an academy sponsor, alongside falling pupil numbers. Despite opposition from parents and teachers and improved standards, South Tyneside Council pressed ahead with the closure – leaving questions about the future of the building. The school was rebuilt in 2011 under the terms of a £24 million Private Finance Initiative (PFI) deal – which commits it to repayments every year until 2036…. Children with a wider range of special educational needs are expected to be catered for by Epinay on the new site. In addition, the move aims to reduce the amount of out-of-area placements, allowing more children to receive education in South Tyneside instead of having to travel to neighbouring authorities…. Councillor Anne Hetherington, cabinet member for independence and wellbeing, welcomed the report and said the proposals would deliver a “much-needed facility for the whole of South Tyneside.” Councillor Jim Foreman, cabinet member for housing and transport, welcomed the expected reduction of out-of-area placements and the “savings that would be made by bringing our children back in borough.”… And councillor Ernest Gibson, cabinet member for area management and community safety, added it was “absolutely fantastic that the school [building] is going to be utilised again.”… According to a cabinet report, the estimated cost of the project to design and model the site for Epinay is around £1.7 million [$2.3M U.S.], which will be funded from the council’s capital programme…. Epinay Business and Enterprise School provides education for children and young people aged 5-18 who have an education, health and care plan which includes a range of additional needs. This ranges from learning difficulties, visual impairment and autistic spectrum disorder to speech, language and communication issues….