Jarrow's Epinay School set to be reborn in closed South Shields School building by Easter 2022
A revamped special needs school could be ready to open in South Shields in just over a year.
Epinay School, currently based in Jarrow, is preparing to move into the former South Shields School, which would also allow its sixth form to join it on a single site.
Plans have previously been announced for the site to become a new modern home for Epinay pupils and staff.
Cllr Tracey Dixon, the leader of South Tyneside Council, gave an update to councillors on the planned move at a meeting on February 9.
“We have made significant progress with plans to expand the provision of education for children and special educational needs and disabilities in South Tyneside,” she said.
“Epinay School in Jarrow will be moving to the site of the former South Shields School, allowing young people with special needs to attend school within the borough and help meet demand for specialist places in South Tyneside.
“This progress builds on our reputation as one of the best Children’s Services authorities in the country.”
Cllr Dixon was speaking at a meeting of the council’s Overview and Scrutiny Coordinating and Call-in Committee, which hold a yearly session dedicated to quizzing the leader of the council.
Questions were delivered and answered by videolink and broadcast via YouTube.
According to Cllr Dixon, who stepped up to the borough’s top job in 2020 following the shock resignation of her former boss Iain Malcolm, the new Epinay School site in South Shields is expected to be ready to open by Easter 2022.
The school’s current site, in Jarrow, has space for 175 pupils and no room to expand, but its new home will be able to accommodate 215.
Epinay’s sixth form, which is currently based on a separate, rented, site, would also be able to move in.
Work is currently ongoing at the former South Shields School to create specialist classrooms and playrooms, as well as a woodland walk, animal centre, space for NVQ catering training and a therapy room.
A Private Finance Initiative (PFI) deal worth £24million funded the construction of the building which, according to a 2019 report for council bosses, commits the borough to annual payments until 2036.