The Council has completed the purchase of land and buildings at Dinnington College, which will be used to provide new specialist education for children with social, emotional and mental health needs.
It means that a significant part of the site – including the iconic clock tower building – will continue to be used to provide education for the people of the Rotherham borough, as it has done for the last century.
Buying the site will also allow the Council to deliver the long-awaited redevelopment of Newman Upper School in Whiston. Students from the Upper School, which is part of Rotherham’s oldest special school, will move to the Dinnington Campus, allowing the demolition and redevelopment some of the existing, dated buildings.
The Council has worked in partnership with former owners, the RNN Group to ensure a smooth handover and the continued use of the site and buildings for the education of Rotherham children and young people.
Councillor Chris Read, Leader of Rotherham Council, said: “The Dinnington College Campus is a cherished landmark for the community and this scheme will ensure 100 years of educational provision at the site will continue. Combined with the redevelopment of the much-loved Newman School in Whiston, our investment will improve the education and life chances for hundreds of local children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).”
Suzanne Joyner, Strategic Director of Children and Young People's Services at Rotherham Council said: “Completing the purchase of the Dinnington Campus site is a significant step towards delivery of a really exciting scheme. We are extremely grateful for the support and co-operation of the RNN Group through the sale process and for the warm welcome our project has received from the community in Dinnington.
“Whilst the formalities to complete the purchase of the site have been going through, we have been working with our partners to appoint a specialist provider who will deliver the SEMH free school provision at Dinnington. We are looking forward to sharing exciting news about the appointment of the provider soon, subject to final sign off by the Department for Education.”
Jason Austin, Chief Executive Officer and Principal, RNN Group, said: “We are delighted that the main Dinnington Campus buildings have been preserved by Rotherham Council for educational purposes to support children and young people who have specialist needs.”
Parents, people working in education and residents in Dinnington are encouraged to register their views as part of the consultation on the proposals. To take part, complete the short questionnaire on the Council’s website: www.rotherham.gov.uk/consultations
There is a pressing need for specialist SEMH places in Rotherham. A growing number of local children and young people have been assessed as needing SEMH education in the borough but currently children and young people with these needs are either placed in Pupil Referral Units (PRUs), or in schools outside the area.
SEMH issues can include a diagnosis of Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), attachment issues, a diagnosed mental illness such as depression or anxiety and sometimes includes mental health issues experienced by children and young people with autism spectrum conditions.
Newman School specialises in provision for children and young people 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.
The proposals are the third phase of SEND Sufficiency Development in Rotherham, a Council programme to ensure the range of places across the borough better meets the needs of children and young people with specialist needs, with £2.5m already invested in developing capacity over the last two years.