Children with special educational needs in County Durham will have better access to the facilities they need to thrive thanks to a funding boost from central government.
Durham County Council has received £1.3m from a national fund which aims to help transform the lives of thousands of children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).
The money will be used to help schools extend their SEND provision through capital projects such as building new classrooms and purchasing new equipment.
The council will allocate the money to schools across the county where gaps in provision have already been identified as part of a review earlier this year.
One school set to benefit from the money is King James I Academy in Bishop Auckland, who are using the funding to support the development of a purpose-built nurture group base for those who require additional support through the transition from primary school and into Years 7 and 8.
The facility, which it is hoped will be completed by September, will allow students to be taught in small groups and will also focus on developing social and emotional skills.
Headteacher Nick Grieveson said: “The new hub means that our young people who need a higher level of support can be taught in a small group with a high staff to student ratio.
“They will also benefit from having a consistent base within our school and we believe creating a family-type nurturing environment will help them make the best start to their secondary education.”
Jackie Reynolds, nurture group co-ordinator (pictured above, left, with Maxine Thwaite, staff member in the nurture team), said: “We launched our nurture group at King James two years ago and it has been a huge success.
“It is fantastic that we will have the opportunity to build on this further with additional staff joining the team alongside the new facility.”
Cllr Olwyn Gunn, Cabinet member for children and young people, said: “All children should have an equal opportunity to reach their full potential and this funding will help ensure that those pupils who do need extra support can access it without having to find alternative provision.
“We believe that this money can really help transform our young people’s lives by giving them the high-quality education they need.”