Stockton council considers re-opening special school it closed five years ago

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Darlington and Stockton Times: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter (Stockton/Hartlepool)

A FORMER special school, which closed five years ago, could be brought back to life in a money-saving scheme.

The former King Edwin School, in Norton, near Stockton, may be redeveloped by Stockton Borough Council and a private sector partner.

The council is currently spending about £100,000 per child, per year, to send children with severe learning difficulties out of the area to be educated.

As a result, Stockton has been looking at other options for children in social care who are currently living and educated in privately-run, specialist facilities, most of which are located out of the borough - some are as far away as Sunderland.

The council is putting together a report, but is hopeful of securing a partnership with the private sector, which would see it buy some properties and redevelop the former King Edwin site for children with severe learning difficulties.

Although the council would have to spend some of its reserves on the scheme, it could save cash in the long-term.

The new special school would be marketed to other local councils who could pay to use the school, and bring in extra revenue.

Stockton Council referred to plans in a budget report, due to be studied by its cabinet next week, and the scheme is being touted as a “spend to save” initiative.

Bob Cook, leader of the council, said the authority needed to look at a number of options to improve efficiency and save money and referred to the King Edwin School idea as a key example.

King Edwin School, which closed in 2008 as part of a shake-up of special needs education in Stockton, specialised in helping children with emotional, behavioural and social difficulties.

A full report on the plans is expected to come before the council in March.

King Edwin, on Mill Lane in Norton, was previously Bishopsmill special school, which closed in 2002.

The council declined to reveal how much it expected to pay for the redevelopment.

However, the cabinet report indicates that other buildings would need to be bought as well as revamping the King Edwin school.

It said: “There is an opportunity for a partnership arrangement which would mean the council purchasing some properties and redeveloping the former King Edwin site.”

A more detailed report will be presented to councillors in March.

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