New alliance set up to help pupils with special needs

Specal School partners Lesley Mann (left) of Columbia Grange School, Joe McConnell (3rd left) of Keelmans Way School, Celia Wright (5th left) of Sunnigdale School, Carolyn Barker ( 6th left) of Barbara Priestamn Academy and Melanie Carson (right) of Portland Academy, with pupils from Sunningdale and Keelmans Way schools.
Specal School partners Lesley Mann (left) of Columbia Grange School, Joe McConnell (3rd left) of Keelmans Way School, Celia Wright (5th left) of Sunnigdale School, Carolyn Barker ( 6th left) of Barbara Priestamn Academy and Melanie Carson (right) of Portland Academy, with pupils from Sunningdale and Keelmans Way schools.
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A GROUP of schools have become one of the first of its kind to support specialist education.

After being granted the prestigious national teaching school status, Sunderland’s Sunningdale School has joined forces with other special schools to give pupils the best possible education.

Celia Wright, headteacher at Sunningdale, said the new Teaching School Alliance is believed to be the first in the North East, aimed at the education of pupils with special needs.

Working alongside Sunningdale in the partnership will be Wearside special schools Barbara Priestman Academy, Portland Academy, Springwell Dene School and Columbia Grange School.

They are being joined by Glendene Arts Academy in Easington and Keelman’s Way School in Hebburn, as well as two Sunderland mainstream primaries, Bexhill Academy and Town End Academy.

Mrs Wright said by working together, the schools can pool their knowledge to ensure every child with special needs gets the best possible support.

She said: “To gain teaching school status is a wonderful achievement. It is a very exciting time for us.”

Melanie Carson, headteacher at Portland Academy, said: “The alliance is going to have a huge impact.”

As well as offering training and support for those within their alliance, teaching schools identify and co-ordinate expertise to help others to make improvements.

Among the aims is for alliances to play a greater role in training new entrants to the profession, lead peer-to-peer professional and leadership development, identify and develop leadership potential and be at the front of research and development.

Charlie Taylor, the chief executive of NCTL, National College for Teaching and Leadership, which appoints teaching schools, said: “Sunningdale should be very proud of their teaching school status. It recognises the school’s outstanding performance and its track record of raising standards through supporting other schools.”

He said by taking a lead role in recruiting and training new entrants to the profession, teaching schools are ensuring the best people will be tutoring future generations of children.