Work pressing ahead on new Hartlepool free school for children with special needs

Work pressing ahead on a planned new free school supporting young people with special needs in Hartlepool.

Friday, 12th July 2019, 11:45 am
Updated Friday, 12th July 2019, 7:11 pm
Stock picture by PA

Earlier this year The Secretary of State for Education approved Hartlepool Borough Council’s bid to establish a new special free school.

The council children’s services committee was given an update on the school plans, which will be for children and young people with social, emotional and mental health needs.

The school will cater for around 50 pupils from key stage two to key stage five, although it will gradually build to that number over a five year process and start with a smaller number.

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However Coun Leisa Smith said the ‘fantastic’ new school would add to concerns around the location of controversial Seneca Global Energy plans to install three on-shore wind turbines.

Free schools are funded by the Government and run by someone other than the local council.

Council bosses said to date two ‘well-attended’ engagement events have been held and early signs are there will be providers wanting to bid.

The deadline for submitting applications is the end of September, which will be followed by interviews before the approved applicant is revealed early next year.

A site has been identified for the new school on council owned grazing land behind Golden Flatts Primary School.

Danielle Swainston, council assistant director for children and families services, said: “This is a great opportunity for us. They’ll be specialists in terms of supporting children with social, emotional and mental health issues. There are certain children who have levels of need that just is not appropriate and cannot be met in a mainstream school.”

Coun Brenda Harrison said: “It’s fantastic news. We already as a town cater for those children and young people with special needs in an extremely good way. To that and to make sure people stay in the town to be helped and supported in education, can only be fantastic.”

Council officers added they will look to conversations with neighbouring authorities to see if they wish to develop a partnership to buy places from the school.