Planning approval for new special free school in Blyth
09 Jul 2022
Councillors have approved planning permission for a new special school in Blyth.
The Gilbert Ward Academy will provide education for students aged 11-16 with social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) needs.
It is part of the Council’s wider strategy to increase special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) support across the county.
Councillor Guy Renner-Thompson, Cabinet member with responsibility for children’s services, said: “This is fantastic news and I am delighted that planning permission has been approved.
“The Gilbert Ward Academy will offer pupils the opportunity to learn, thrive and grow in an environment that’s tailored to meet their needs.
“It’s a really exciting time for education in Northumberland as we roll out projects across the county to make sure we meet the needs of all our children and young people as close to home as possible.”
Since 2013, there has been an increased demand for specialist educational places. As a result, the council has created additional capacity in special schools, but further need, specifically for secondary age pupils is required.
A bid for an 80-place secondary SEMH school was made by the council in 2018 as part of the Government’s Special Free Schools programme.
The successful bid brought about the proposed Gilbert Ward Academy which will be based on the Princess Louise site in Blyth. The name for the school is an acknowledgement of Dr Gilbert Ward, who established public medical services in Blyth.
Designs for the new facility also include a multi-use games area (MUGA) that will be open to the community.
Following the successful planning application, which was supported by planning consultants DPP Planning, it will be built by the Department for Education and ran by Prosper Learning Trust and plans to open in September 2023.