Innovative learning facility set to close in Hartlepool

St Hild's Church of England School on King Oswy Drive in Hartlepool.
St Hild's Church of England School on King Oswy Drive in Hartlepool.

A Hartlepool educational facility is to close after eight years.

Space to Learn on the site of St Hild’s Church of England School opened in 2010 but is to close next year.

It follows a fall in demand from schools across town and after attempts to find alternative ways of funding the facility proved unsuccessful.

Space to Learn was established as a place to challenge conventional teaching methods by providing an area where new technologies, teaching styles and methods could be trialed.

Open to all schools in Hartlepool free of charge, the service is mainly used by some primary schools to access its ICT technology to boost their learning.

Schools can also loan equipment for extended periods of time.

The maintenance and staffing costs of around £100,000 a year are met by a Schools’ Forum.

Last year, the forum questioned the value for money of the Space to Learn facility.

A report, which goes before Hartlepool Borough Council’s Children’s Services Committee on Tuesday, states: “It was acknowledged that all schools in Hartlepool could access the facilities and expertise, but that a decreasing fraction of all schools did.

“Some schools, especially secondary schools, indicated that it was difficult to timetable half or full day blocks for pupils and teachers to access S2L; others indicated that they now felt that they had the expertise and equipment in school to deliver the relevant parts of the curriculum themselves.”

Schools felt it would be better if Space to Learn offered some kind of service level agreement that individual schools could buy into.

But the report added: “It has not been possible to produce a sustainable service funding model in partnership with schools. Therefore, S2L will cease to operate on 31 August 2018.”

A five-year lease previously granted to the council has expired and the authority is proposing to hand the building back to the Church of England diocese before August 31 next year.

Equipment is set to be transferred to the former Northern Lights Academy, also on the St Hild’s estate, which is being developed into a Centre for Excellence in Creative Arts.

The council’s report added: “This will allow for the most valued elements of the S2L offer to continue at a charge to interested schools. This would also enable the equipment loan scheme that some schools utilise at present to be continued for some time.”

The future of the building will be decided by the school and diocese.