South Tyneside children with special educational needs to benefit from new £1.9m school

Children with special educational needs are set to benefit from the opening of a new state-of-the-art school in South Shields.

The new Epinay Business and Enterprise School will open on the site of what was South Shields School which closed in 2020.

A £1.9m investment from South Tyneside Council has seen the construction of new buildings as well as the redesign and refurbishment of existing facilities to cater for the needs of its new learners.

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In addition to the redevelopment of new classrooms, work carried out by Meldrum Construction and Partners has seen the installation a new cafe, kitchen and food tech facility and a new Early Year’s Hub including shower area.

A number of new educational features have been installed, including a new rebound therapy room with trampolines and matting, a sensory light area and a specialist ball-pit.

The outside environment will include an Early Years play area with learning features such as a bug hotel, sand-pit, water-wall, mud kitchen and a climbing wall.

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A woodland walk, mud kitchen and bird hide has also been created.

The re-location of the current Epinay School from its base in Jarrow means that more children with special educational needs can now be taught within South Tyneside, instead of having to travel outside the Borough for their education.

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(Left to right) Cllr Adam Ellison with Chair of Governors, Cllr Audrey Huntley, Governor Robert Whitelaw, Business Manager Dianne Mountain and Headteacher Chris Rue.
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Headteacher Chris Rue said: “This is a very exciting time for our children, parents and carers and the entire school community. We are committed to giving our pupils the very best learning experience. We can hardly wait to move into this fantastic learning environment.

“My vision for the school is that we use the move of site to further propel our expectations and offer children with additional needs an outstanding education that they excel in.

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"I would like to thank our Governing Board and the Local Authority for all their time and efforts in making this possible for our children. This will be life changing for them in so many ways."

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The move also means that more children with a greater range of special needs can be taught on the new site, including a designated sixth form for the school’s 32 young adults who were previously educated at a rented off-site premises.

Councillor Adam Ellison, Lead Member for Children, Young People and Families, 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.

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“Epinay Business and Enterprise School provides an outstanding education to our young people. I am delighted that from September pupils will be on site and learning in this new environment, and whilst it is a real change, it opens up many new opportunities for learning.”

Chair of Governors, Councillor Audrey Huntley, added: “I can’t wait for the children to move into this new site and just see what they can achieve. This new site will become a benchmark for just what young people with special educational needs can achieve when you put them first.”