Thursday, November 12, 2020

News: Potential new future for Dinnington campus


Rotherham Council has revealed plans to acquire part of the Dinnington College Campus as part of proposals to improve the education and life chances for hundreds of children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) in the borough.

Rothbiz reported in May that the RNN Group had confirmed that the Dinnington campus of the Rotherham College will close this summer, so that the group "can make best use of its estate and invest in its other local sites."

Investing in the Dinnington Campus would allow the council to use an existing historic education site to develop a new and innovative school which would specialise in providing education for children and young people with social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) difficulties.

It's also recommended that Newman Upper School – part of Rotherham’s oldest special school - would move to the Dinnington Campus, allowing the demolition and high-specification rebuild of existing, dated buildings on the Newman site.

If the plans are approved, the new specialist SEMH provision would operate as a free school, with the Council inviting applications from specialist providers.

Councillor Gordon Watson, Deputy Leader of Rotherham Council and Cabinet Member for Children's Services, said: "Since 2018, the Council has invested £2.5m in creating more than 200 additional school places for children with SEND in Rotherham. But demand, especially for specialist mental health provision, continues to grow.

"The availability of the Dinnington Campus provides us with a game changing opportunity to consolidate our existing PRU provision, provide specialist mental health provision to young people in Rotherham for the first time and fulfil our long term aim of redeveloping Newman School with new purpose built facilities more befitting the superb teaching and therapy it provides for children with disabilities and complex needs."

The plans show that the council would acquire four blocks of the campus - the main building and resource centres. A large block to the rear has been earmarked for demolition and the horticulture, a working farm and vehicle workshops don't appear to be included in the deal.

The playing fields to the rear have been advertised for lease with agents, Fisher German.

The proposals would require the Council to invest some £5.747m.

Newman School specialises in provision for children with a range of learning difficulties and particularly those with complex medical needs but the school buildings have fallen into disrepair. The transfer of the upper school to Dinnington College will allow the works to be completed at Newman school whilst the remaining pupils continue to attend at the existing site.

If approved, the scheme would see education provision retained at the Dinnington Campus site, which has been a cherished community asset in the town since the 1920s.

Dave Smith, Chair of Dinnington St John's Town Council, said: “We are pleased that an asset which has been part of the community for around 100 years can still be used for education in the area.

"Many people across Rotherham have been educated at the site through the decades and some students that have passed through the gates may have grandparents or even great grandparents that were taught at the college site as well. It’s great to see that the heritage of the town is being protected for future generations."

Images: RMBC


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