New free special school for Northumberland set to open in 2022

The former Princess Louise First School site in Blyth, where a new special free school is to be built.The former Princess Louise First School site in Blyth, where a new special free school is to be built.
The former Princess Louise First School site in Blyth, where a new special free school is to be built.
The details of a new special school in Northumberland have been unveiled, with the first pupils set to start in September 2022.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson announced 35 new special free schools nationally on Sunday, July 19, with one of these to be in Blyth – creating 80 new places for young people aged 11 to 16 on the autistic spectrum, and social, emotional and mental health needs.

As previously reported, Northumberland County Council was successful in its bid to establish the school, sparked by a 50% increase in the number of children with complex needs between 2013 and 2019.

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It will be built by the Department for Education on the former Princess Louise First School site and is expected to open with 40 students in 2022 and the full 80 the following year.

Coun Wayne Daley, the council’s cabinet member for children’s services and deputy leader, said: “Our successful bid to Government allowed us to become part of this national programme and, as a consequence, 80 children will benefit from a place at a school dedicated to their needs, making a huge difference to their lives and those of their families.

“There is a high demand for new special school places for young people with complex needs in Northumberland and, as a council, we are determined to address this.”

Following a formal tender process, it has now been revealed that Prosper Learning Trust, which runs three schools in Newcastle and is opening a new free school in Sunderland this September, was the successful bidder and will manage the school.

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CEO Mark Jones said: “Working together with all our partners, we will create a school that will be recognised as a centre of excellence, providing a curriculum that will meet the needs of all its pupils, a school that will make all those associated with it extremely proud.”

A free school is a non-profit-making, independent, state-funded school which is free to attend but not wholly controlled by the local authority.

The council will still commission and fund the places required for young people from Northumberland, although there will be a proportion of places for pupils from neighbouring council areas.

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