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(UK) South Tyneside SPED pop. "almost doubled since 2015"

Feb 25, 2020, Shields Gazette: Doomed South Shields School set to be reborn as special needs school and youth training facility South Shields School, in Nevison Avenue, will close its doors for good on August 31 following a decision by council bosses last year. The school had been facing an uncertain future after being rated ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted and failing to win an academy sponsor, alongside falling pupil numbers. The school was re-built in 2011 under the terms of a £24million Private Finance Initiative (PFI) deal - which commits it to repayments worth £400,000 a year until 2036. Next week, town hall chiefs will discuss early proposals to re-purpose the site in a bid to increase places for children and young people with SEND in the borough. Under the plans, Epinay School in Jarrow could relocate to South Shields and share the site with a training centre for young people between the ages of 19-25. The changes are subject to consultation with the school community and affected families. Lead Member for Children, Young People and Adults on the council, Coun Moira Smith, stressed the plans are at a “very early stage.” “I hope people see that this represents a real opportunity to improve provision for children and young people with special educational needs,” she said. “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…. A recent audit of services for pupils with SEND in the borough identified a ‘gap in provision’ to meet demand for pupils with autistic spectrum disorders and social, emotional and mental health needs. A lack of specialist places in South Tyneside also means some pupils have to go to school outside of the borough – with 49 currently in ‘out of authority provision’…. Headteacher at Epinay School, Chris Rue, said: “These discussions are at a very early stage but the potential relocation 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 relocating to South Shields, there is an opportunity to both expand and enhance the provision on offer.” South Tyneside Council retains financial liability for the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) contract which financed the construction of South Shields School. Under the terms of the deal, the site must be used for education or community purposes. South Tyneside Council’s cabinet will discuss the future of the school site on Wednesday March 4 at South Shields Town Hall.


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