School services overhaul gets the go-ahead

AN overhaul of services at a Morpeth school has been approved by councillors.

Consultation has been carried out at eight schools and two special units in the county, including Collingwood School and Media Arts College in Stobhill, about changes to the age ranges of pupils and designations of the facilities.

It follows a review of special education needs after concerns were raised about poor outcomes being achieved by pupils, high service costs and the number of pupils required to travel long distances to school.

At a meeting on Monday, Northumberland County Council’s Executive agreed to the changes, paving the way for statutory notices to be published.

Executive Member for Children and Young People Lesley Rickerby said: “I think what comes out of the papers is the endorsement of the changes being proposed and the reasons why. This is for the necessary improvements to the service and to address the requirements of children with special needs.

“We have to impress the fact it’s not just about money, it’s about providing a good service for those youngsters who are travelling long distances. By implementing these changes it will give better services to children on their doorstep.”

Concerns had been raised about children already in the system, but officers said they had reassured parents that those youngsters would not be affected.

The move could see children as young as two receiving specialist support at Collingwood and there would be extra resources available for pupils up to the age of 19. The changes are expected to be implemented from September 1.