Northumberland College has been granted planning permission for a major investment in its specialist facilities to meet the complex needs of students with special educational needs and disabilities.

A dedicated building with a new extension at the college’s Kirkley Hall campus in Ponteland will soon be transformed into a bespoke learning environment for students aged 16 to 24, who have special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). Planning permission for the extension has recently been confirmed and building working will begin imminently.

The highly-specialised facilities and resources will create a safe and positive environment and are designed to engage and stimulate students, nurture their individual talents and skills and ensure they reach their full potential, whilst ensuring they are part of a wider college community to develop their independence and social and life skills.

Nigel Harrett, Principal of Northumberland College, said:

“We have high ambitions and aspirations for all of our students at Northumberland College. With our new facilities, those with special educational needs and disabilities will be individually supported through a revised and innovative curriculum, with tailored support, to achieve their ambitions and develop the skills to work inclusively at the college and in the wider community.

“Students will benefit from our purpose-built SEND centre, which will cater for their needs whilst promoting inclusion in a wider college environment and a career-focused enrichment programme in land-based vocations.

“This is an exciting development for all of our current students with special needs and disabilities, as well as prospective students across Northumberland, their parents, carers and wider support network.”

The state-of-the-art facilities will include adaptable classrooms with access to specialist computer software and specialist technology, sensory experience learning room, low sensory quiet room, independent living skills kitchen, sensory garden for outside learning and social experiences, and accessible toilets plus a fully equipped wet room. There will also be an employability hub with a focus on securing work experience for students, to support their transition to independent living.

Cath McEvoy-Carr, Executive Director of Adult Social Care and Children’s Services at Northumberland County Council, said:  

"We are very pleased to see this project progressing at Northumberland College.  It will provide great new learning opportunities in Northumberland for young people with special educational needs and disabilities."  

The new facilities will provide staff with the opportunity to support students in developing core independence skills for communication, travel, managing shopping and budgets, health care and physical fitness in addition to contributing to social and community projects. The curriculum enhancements with the improved environment will support an academic journey that leads to positive outcomes including employment, further study and independent living.

The college’s Kirkley Hall campus will also see the construction of a bespoke equine centre including indoor arena, a specialist animal management centre and modern residential accommodation. The investment is part of a multi-million-pound re-development programme, which officially commenced following the recent appointment of real estate consultants Hollis as project managers.

Northumberland College merged with Sunderland College in March this year to create Education Partnership North East, one of the largest college groups in the UK. The multi-million-pound investment programme at Northumberland College is part of the group’s bold new strategic plan and will ensure that Northumberland College is one the region’s leading education and training providers.

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