Plans to transform former Sunderland school into support base for children with special needs

A former city school site could become a support base for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) under new council plans.

Thursday, 31st May 2018, 1:13 pm
Updated Thursday, 31st May 2018, 1:17 pm

Sunderland City Council’s (SCC) cabinet heard the plans for Springwell Dene School this week (May 30) when discussing education plans for 2018/19.

The Springwell school, in Swindon Road, returned to council ownership in April and bosses hope to use to support pupil referral unit (PRU) places in the city.

A PRU cares for pupils who are unable to attend a mainstream school or access special schools in the area.

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A £500k Government grant will be provided to the council following a consultation with parent groups, schools forums and relevant bodies.

The fund covers covers the next three years and will see £166k invested every year until 2020/2021 subject to this feedback.

SCC’s cabinet member for children, learning and skills, Louise Farthing, welcomed the plans.

She said: “This council is committed, and always has been, to ensuring that all our children meet their potential.

“We have exciting plans for the Springwell site, which we believe will enhance educational attainment for some of our most vulnerable children and young people with special needs.

“In consulting with parents, schools and groups about the site, the council is ensuring that our city continues to develop and provides services helping and offering more opportunities for all children and young people with special educational needs.”

The Springwell Dene site was previously owned by the Ascent Academy Trust and was declared surplus  following internal changes.

If SEND services were to transfer from current sites the former school, additional council funding be used to support the changes.

A council report states that the grant would help “secure a permanent delivery body” for a key stage one pupil referral unit with plans to extend to key stage two and three.

It adds that “facilities of Springwell Dene School used to add both value to the current curriculum offer and the potential for additional PRU places as required across the city”.

Council bosses agreed to start the consultation process associated with the SEND provision capital funding.

Chris Binding , Local Democracy Reporting Service