The Dales is a school for primary age children who have Special Needs. All children who attend The Dales School have a Statement of Special Educational Need. These include: Autistic Spectrum Disorder; Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder; Emotional / Social Difficulties, and; a range of other complex needs including: Downs Syndrome; Cerebral Palsy, and; Epilepsy.
A situation existed in 2010 that many children with special needs were sent from Northumberland, or educated other than at school, owing to insufficient specialist places. The building which we occupied at this time did not allow us to accommodate the children who were ‘hard to place’. Therefore, in September 2010, in an effort to educate Northumberland children in a Northumberland school, we decided to relocate. Before relocating, The Dales School had occupied a site at East Hartford village, a small ex-mining village in Northumberland.
The Dales School opened in Blyth, Northumberland, in September 2010 into a building which had, for the last 70 years, been a middle school.
Blyth is an area of high unemployment and an area with many social problems. However, although some of our children live in Blyth, the majority travel from other areas of Northumberland county. Examples of single journeys are: Otterburn (1 hour); Alnwick (45 minutes), and; Hexham (40 minutes).
We ‘opened our doors’ in September 2010 and OfSTED walked through them 4 weeks later. (This report is in our About us section). Even at this time when we were still settling in, they found that we were ‘a good school with outstanding features’. Their report stated that, ‘The Dales is a good school. The commitment by all staff successfully supports the school’s mission statement, 'To meet the individual needs of each pupil in a caring, secure environment where all work together and everyone is valued.' Parents and carers are highly appreciative of the school's caring ethos and show this with comments such as, ‘They are a fantastic team dedicated to providing the best they can for each individual child.’ The inspection findings wholly agree with this view.
Leaders are committed to driving improvements and have high expectations. This is particularly evident in the recent successfully executed move to a new site which has secured a substantially improved learning environment. Excellent partnerships effectively promote shared expertise, leading to pupils’ increased confidence and ability to access their curriculum and participate in a range of social settings. In addition, that we are outstanding in ‘The effectiveness of partnerships in promoting learning and well-being’.(OfSTED: October 2010).
The decision to relocate was made by the Governors of the school to allow us to increase capacity and provide improved facilities. We now have an increased number of classrooms; including specialist rooms for Art; Science, and; Design Technology. In addition we have a School Hall; a Gymnasium; a Sensory Room; Meeting rooms and a large ICT suite. Outside we have extensive grounds; a school garden area; an external education area adjacent to our Early Years provision, and; a renovated 3 bedroom house which we use for life-skills.