Special free school will create ‘exceptional place for learning’

A Tees-based education trust says it plans to create an “exceptional place of learning” for children with complex learning needs in a state-of-the-art special school in Middlesbrough.

A deal to sell a stretch of land off Sandy Flatts Lane for £720,000 was recently agreed by Middlesbrough Council’s sub-committee for property in a bid to make Discovery Special Academy a reality on the 4.5-acre site.

Tees Valley Education Multi-Academy Trust is working with the Department for Education to create an “urgently needed” 84-place special free school on the Acklam site.

Now Katrina Morley, the trust’s CEO, says meetings will soon get underway to begin the next phase of the project ahead of the building’s planned opening in 2021.

“Tees Valley Education is immensely proud that the special free school is one step closer to being realised,” she said. “This a new milestone and the culmination of a three-year project.”

Mrs Morley said the progress was an “excellent example of collaboration” between Tees Valley Education Trust, Middlesbrough Council, Redcar & Cleveland Council, the DfE and the government’s Education and Skills Funding Agency, which has agreed to buy the land.

Although the school is already up and running for 30 children on the sites of two of the trust’s current schools, Pennyman and Brambles primary academies, the anticipated opening of the newly built school in autumn 2021 will provide education and therapies to 84 pupils.

Mrs Morley continued: “We look forward to working with the team of architects on the design phase, so that our children enter a truly exceptional place of learning every day – and fully realise the Discovery School motto ‘Through Discovery we grow’.

“It is widely accepted that there is an urgent need for additional bespoke, stand-alone specialist provision for local children with complex learning needs.

“The Sandy Flatts site is the perfect location for the school and we’re looking forward to making real progress now that the scheme has been approved.”

In the coming months, Tees Valley Education Trust representatives will attend a series of meetings with officials from the Department for Education to plan the next phase of the project.

This will include meeting a team of architects, planners and technical consultants.

“But, most importantly,” said Mrs Morley, “Some of the most vulnerable children within the Tees Valley, and their families, will be the beneficiaries of this scheme, with the additional benefits to both educational and health professionals who will work together as part of a special educational needs hub.”

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