Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Pupil Numbers to Double; School Set to Expand While Another Closes

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Pupil Numbers to Double; School Set to Expand While Another Closes

Article excerpt

Byline: Dave Black

ASCHOOL in Northumberland which teaches troubled youngsters with severe emotional and behavioural problems is set to double in size at a cost of pounds 3m.

The proposed investment at Atkinson House Special School in Seghill, which caters for children who are too disruptive to be taught in mainstream schools, will increase its capacity from 40 pupils to 80, and allow more problem pupils to be educated locally.

Meanwhile, one of Northumberland's smallest village schools - Milfield First near Wooler - looks set to finally close its doors following two previous bids to shut it.

It has just seven pupils and is said to be on the edge of financial viability. Now governors want to consult parents and local residents on a proposal that it should close and the children transfer to other schools.

Plans to spend pounds 3m on extra teaching space and enhanced sports facilities at Atkinson House Special School go before the county council's executive next week, and form part of a strategy to increase provision for youngsters with behaviour problems. The extra capacity will allow more such children to be schooled within Northumberland, and includes a new building containing classrooms and workshops for pupils to work towards vocational qualifications.

Atkinson House opened in 2000 following a pounds 1.25m refurbishment of a former residential school for youngsters with emotional and behaviour problems. It caters for children aged 11 to 16 who have difficulty in behaving at a level which mainstream schools find acceptable.

The school rewards good and appropriate behaviour by its pupils, on whom various sanctions and punishments in mainstream education have had little or no effect.

Yesterday Elsie Harvey, who chairs the governors at Atkinson House, said: "These exciting proposals would enable us to offer a wider curriculum to our pupils, which can only improve their life chances, and would also keep them within the Northumberland family of schools. …

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