‘Underutilised’ college campus to reopen as specialist high needs centre

Principal 'delighted' to find 'sustainable solution' for the site after controversial closure

Principal 'delighted' to find 'sustainable solution' for the site after controversial closure

An “underutilised” college campus that was controversially closed this autumn is set to reopen next year as a specialist centre for young people who have high needs.

The Sheffield College has announced plans to refurbish its Peaks Campus and retain it for educational purposes.

Its local community and MP Clive Betts voiced discontent over the sudden decision to shut the site earlier this year as it would leave the area with no further education offer. The college said the decision was necessary due to rising costs in a difficult financial climate.

The campus had around 300 students at the time of closure, against a capacity of almost 800, who studied a range of courses including games design, health and social care, public services and science courses, apprenticeships and the Prince’s Trust programme.

It will now be transformed into a centre solely focussed on provision for 16 to 24-year-olds who have high needs and require specialist support to progress, with a capacity of 300 students.

The college said it will partner with Sheffield City Council for the project after both identified a “vital and growing requirement” in the city and wider region for further post-16 high-needs places.

Principal and chief executive Angela Foulkes said: “We are delighted that Peaks Campus will be retained for educational purposes and will continue to play a vital role in the community and city, and that we have a long-term sustainable solution for the site.

“The transformation of the campus into a new facility that young people and the city needs will ensure that no one is left behind and enable us to provide more places for students who have high needs.

Clive Betts MP welcomed the move.

He said: “When Sheffield College announced they were closing their Peaks Campus I was clear that under no circumstances should the building simply be left empty and unused.

“Like the rest of the country Sheffield faces huge pressures on SEND provision and supporting young people with specific needs. This plan will be a big step in helping address that and I want to make sure we can have the campus reopened in this capacity as soon as possible.”

The college said the new centre will provide additional capacity for high-needs students from September 2024 rather than replacing existing provision.

New facilities will include adaptations to the building to meet the needs of the students such as quiet spaces, sensory rooms and an independent living suite, according to a spokesperson.

Student recruitment to the new centre will be phased and start with 100 places being offered.

Councillor Dawn Dale, chair of Sheffield City Council’s education, children and families policy committee, said: “We are pleased that The Sheffield College want to develop Peaks Campus in this way. The Sheffield College and the council recognise the growing numbers of children and young people with Special Educational Needs and are taking action to support them.”

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