Plans approved to expand special needs provision at South Shields primary school

Education bosses have approved plans to expand special needs provision at a South Shields school.

Lord Blyton Primary School, in Blyton Avenue, will gain an extra 13 places for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).
Lord Blyton Primary School, in Blyton Avenue, will gain an extra 13 places for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

The decision means Lord Blyton Primary School, in Blyton Avenue, will gain an extra 13 places for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

And it is hoped the project, which will be funded by a special grant from the Department for Education (DfE), could lead to South Tyneside Council spending less on expensive placements outside the borough for its most vulnerable youngsters.

Coun Ed Malcolm, deputy leader of the council and chair of the school’s governing body, said he was ‘very pleased’ it had been chosen.

He added: [Lord Blyton] has a high percentage of children with SEND and it has developed a record of being able to help with their challenging needs.

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“The school’s headteacher, staff and governors are all on board with this and although this will be a challenge for the school it will be a challenge worth working for.

“It also means that as an authority we will be saving money because we won’t be sending children out of the borough and there is such a need for this provision now because of the many children with special needs requirements.”

Coun Malcolm was speaking at a meeting of the council’s ruling cabinet, which he also sits on as the member responsible for ‘resources and innovation’, on Wednesday, December 4.

Coun Moira Smith, cabinet member for children, young people and families, said the SEND scheme at the school was ‘part of a wider SEND strategy which is reviewing demand for places in the borough’.

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An initial round of ‘informal’ consultation on the proposals ran in June and July, but received no responses.

A second, formal, consultation, which stated plans to open the new 13-place SEND unit at Lord Blyton Primary School from April next year (2020) ran in September and October (2019).

This received just one response, which called the plans a ‘positive step’ but called for more places to be created across South Tyneside, including improving early years provision.

The council’s reply said: “Further proposals will emerge as current provision is reviewed in the context of the changing demand for places, both current and projected. An early years sufficiency audit is due to report by the end of this year and will inform demand for future mainstream and SEN provision.”