Moves to create a sixth form at a South Tyneside special needs school could be brought forward by a year, if given the go-ahead by councillors.
Members of South Tyneside Council’s Cabinet will be asked next week to bring forward a proposal from the Governing Body of Epinay Business and Enterprise School in Jarrow to raise the age limit at the school to 18.
The change was originally proposed to start next year but now the Education Funding Agency has brought the funding forward, the governors are keen to see the sixth form established from this September.
The sixth form, which will be based at the Clervaux Exchange adjacent to the school, will mean greater choice for young people with mild and moderate learning difficulties.
The subjects on offer will range from a qualification in community volunteering to a Btec in Art and Design to a Sports Leadership qualification. Other work-related training opportunities will be offered at local community venues.
Up to 12 students will be admitted to each year of the sixth form, increasing the overall capacity of the school by 24 pupils to 138.
Headteacher at the school, Hilary Harrison, said: “We have been working with South Tyneside College for the last two years as a post-16 provider commissioned by the College. Students have been able to access both the College and Epinay as part of preparation for work.
“Having our own sixth form allows greater flexibility and choice for young people with special educational needs and disability.
"Parents and carers have been delighted with progress made and the development of confidence through having the additional time at Epinay. We look forward to continuing to work in partnership with the College and other post-16 providers to ensure young people who attend sixth form have a range of exciting opportunities to achieve their ambitions.”
Councillor Joan Atkinson, Lead Member for Children, Young People and Families, said: “The creation of a sixth form this year means that the range of quality and choice of provision for students with learning difficulties will be improved earlier than anticipated which has to be a good thing. We hope this will raise the aspirations of younger students.
“This new facility will allow students to gain in maturity and achieve their goals within a safe, familiar and nurturing environment before moving on to Further Education, training or employment.”