Epinay School preparing to officially open on site of former South Shields School in boost for special educational needs provision in South Tyneside

A new school for children in South Tyneside with special educational needs is due to be officially opened this week.

Epinay Business and Enterprise School moved into its new home on the site of the former South Shields School earlier this year. following a revamp which has seen more than £1.9 million spent on it.

New facilities and adaptations for pupils include several specialist therapy rooms and sensory areas.

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And the improvements are not just confined to the inside, with a bug hotel, sand-pit and mud kitchen among the attractions awaiting youngsters when the weather allows them outside.

Demi-Jade Gallagher was among the pupils exploring the school.

Headteacher Chris Rue said: “The re-location of the school from its smaller site in Jarrow means that more children with special education needs can now be taught within South Tyneside, instead of having to travel outside the Borough for their education.

"The move also means that more children with a greater range of special needs can be taught on the new site.

“Our children are already benefiting significantly from the new education spaces that they have.

Epinay School pupils Jessie Linsley, Gracie Ellison and Ava Marley in the sensory room.

"We are all delighted with our new home and are enjoying giving our children the very best education.”

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The additional space at the new site also means the school’s sixth form, which was formerly located in off-site rented premises, now has its own dedicated space for 32 young adults.

The former South Shields School, in Nevinson Avenue, closed its doors for the last time in 2020, less than 10 years after the school was rebuilt under the terms of a £24 million Private Finance Initiative (PFI) deal, which commits the council to repayments every year until 2036.

The closure followed an ‘inadequate’ rating from Ofsted in 2017 and its subsequent failure to win an academy sponsor, alongside falling pupil numbers, eventually leading to plans for Epinay School to take over the site.

South Shields School closed its doors for the last time in 2020.
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Cllr Adam Ellison, cabinet member for Children, Young People and Families, said: “The number of children with Education Health and Care Plans in South Tyneside has almost doubled since 2015 so it is fantastic that we have been able to respond to this level of need in such a positive way.

“The Council’s massive investment means that the facilities in this school are outstanding and will help these young people to achieve ever greater things.”