Coquet Partnership

Cabinet set to consider next steps in £36.6m Amble schools investment

Proposals to move Amble’s schools to a two-tier system and create a new SEND hub will go before councillors next week (September 8.) 
Northumberland County Council has already approved a £25.5m investment in the Coquet Partnership, including the replacement or refurbishment of James Calvert Spence College (JCSC).   
But before committing to such a major investment, an informal public consultation took place on the future structure of the school system in the partnership.  
An overwhelming 92% of respondents said they believed a two-tier structure would deliver the best outcomes for young people.  
There was also widespread support for proposals to create 50 new places for young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) by building a new satellite site of Barndale House Special School on the current JCSC South Avenue site that would open in September 2024.  
The new SEND hub would cater primarily for those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Social Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) needs, Speech Language and Communication (SLCN) and Moderate Learning Difficulties (MLD). 
It would also provide support to all the Coquet Partnership schools offering Continuous Professional Development for staff, intervention and outreach support into mainstream schools.  
A report based on the findings of the informal consultation will now go before councillors to ask that the proposals can be taken to statutory consultation.  
Councillors will also be asked to increase the budget for the project by £11.1m from £25.5m to £36.6m in order to deliver the capital investment required for all schools.  
If Cabinet approves the proposals, the council will carry out formal consultation on the plans - where all interested parties would be able to submit comments either for or against the proposals.   
Cllr Guy Renner-Thompson, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Northumberland County Council, said: “Thank you to everyone who took part in the consultation and helped to shape the next stage of the proposals.  
“An overwhelming 92% of respondents thought that the two-tier model will deliver the best outcomes for our young people and create a viable education system for the future.  
“Expanding Barndale House Special School by building a new SEND hub in Amble will also enable more young people to have their needs met as close to their local communities as possible. 
We’ve got fantastic schools here in the county and we want them to have first-class facilities to match.” 
Audrey Kingham, Interim Joint Director of Children’s Services, Northumberland County Council, said: “This is a really exciting time for education in Northumberland.  
“Before we make this major investment, we want to make sure we have the school system that is right for the community. 
“The informal public consultation showed widespread support for the two-tier model and for expanding SEND provision.  
“It is clear that the schools in the partnership are all committed to working together and to do what is best for the young people in Amble and the surrounding areas.” 
In a joint statement, the headteachers of the Coquet Partnership said: “All the schools in the Coquet Partnership are united in their vision to build a thriving educational community where all our children and young people can reach their full potential.” 
Councillors will meet to discuss the plans at the Family and Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee on September 8 before the report goes before Cabinet on September 13. 
Should Cabinet approve the publication of the statutory proposals set out under the recommendations, there would be a four-week period of statutory consultation during which time all interested parties would be able to submit comments either for against the proposals.  
The statutory proposals would be published on 15 September, closing on 13 October 2022
The full report is available here: 
View all news