Improvement works planned at two Hartlepool schools - Springwell School and Catcote Academy set for 'fantastic' projects
Plans have been drawn up to carry out works at two schools in Hartlepool to provide greater facilities for young people with additional needs.
Hartlepool Borough Council chiefs said as part of the school capital works programme for the coming year they want to carry out improvements to Springwell School and Catcote Academy.
Work would include internal modifications and an extension at Springwell, while officers are looking at a ‘significant new build’ to support the existing Catcote Academy site.
The developments would allow the schools to cater for an increased number of young pupils with additional needs and disabilities.
Danielle Swainston, council assistant director for joint commissioning services, told the children’s services committee officers have been in talks with the schools over what provision is needed.
She said: “We’ve worked with Springwell and with Catcote to try and understand the needs and what we need to modify in terms of the provision.
“Springwell needs internal modifications and an extension in order to meet the needs of those children with significant needs.
“Catcote actually requires a significant new build to be able to meet the needs of the children they’ve got the demands for, and the significant number of children that have been identified more recently.
“The proposal for capital works is an extension modification to Springwell, and we would also like to look at developing an alternative provision for Catcote autistic spectrum disorder children for their sixth form.
“This would free up space to enable us to take more children on the Catcote main site for 11 to 16s.”
Officers added in recent months it came to light there are a number of children who will need specialist provision from September 2021 onwards, on top of those already needing support.
This includes six children aged between four and five years old with profound and multiple learning disabilities and significant health needs, and 12 children with moderate learning difficulties in need of specialist provision.
Council officers added Catcote Academy is already using the Centre for Excellence in Creative Arts in the town to support the moderate learning disability classes, but this is not sustainable.
They added the works would come to an estimated £3.550million, and the amount allocated for SEND provision works is currently £1.5million.
Officers said they would be exploring funding options and potential bid opportunities to cover the shortfall, with a report to come back to councillors in the coming months.
Councillors on the committee praised plans to provide investment into education facilities for children with additional needs in the town.
Cllr Jim Lindridge said: “Catcote Academy, I think it’s a long time coming that we need more provision in those areas to support the vulnerable children.
“You can’t give the children enough as far as i’m concerned, because they’re our future, and the health and wellbeing of their parents is important as well by supporting those children.”
Cllr Brenda Harrison added: “I think it’s fantastic that this is going ahead for Catcote and Springwell, I think that we as a town have very good facilities for special education and we need to keep supporting it and building it up.”
Cllr Sue Little asked if long term there was potential for complete new builds of the schools, however council officers noted no opportunities would likely be there to do so.
Cllr Shane Moore, Hartlepool Borough Council leader, said: “Ideally we would all like to see all of our ageing schools replaced, but unfortunately it does come down to whether there are new schemes available from central government."