Prosper Learning Trust's New Special School Gilbert Ward Academy Opens In Blyth

Return to Latest News
Blog Header Image
13th Feb 2024

Main photo, left to right: Chris Richardson, Prosper Learning Trust CEO; Joanne Clifford Swan, Prosper Learning Trust's Chair of Trustees; Barry Reed, Gilbert Ward Academy's Headteacher; Guy Renner-Thompson, Northumberland Councillor and Cabinet Member for Inspiring Young People; Anna Watson, Northumberland Councillor for local Isabella Ward.

Gilbert Ward Academy, part of Prosper Learning Trust, received the keys to their new school building and has opened to pupils. 

The school opened in September 2023 in two temporary sites in Blyth, Northumberland. The temporary provisions were utilised while work was being completed on the new building on Princess Louise Road in Blyth.

Gilbert Ward Academy will eventually accommodate up to 80 pupils who have social, emotional, and mental health needs (SEMH).

Bowmer and Kirkland handed the building to Prosper Learning Trust on Friday 26th January 2024, which allowed for the 30 pupils on roll at the school to transition from their temporary accommodation to the new site. 

Prosper Learning Trust are proud to deliver this brand new school which serves the town of Blyth and the wider county of Northumberland. Working together with stakeholders and partners, the Trust and the school will provide a high-quality, inclusive and personalised education for pupils with SEMH needs, and by doing so will enhance the life chances of generations of young people to come.

Barry Reed, Headteacher, Gilbert Ward Academy said, “As the Headteacher of Gilbert Ward Academy, I am immensely proud to witness the opening of our new school building, a milestone that marks a new chapter in our commitment to providing exceptional education for pupils with social, emotional, and mental health needs. This achievement is not just a testament to our dedication but also a reflection of the collaborative spirit that has brought us to this point. The transition from our temporary sites to this state-of-the-art facility on Princess Louise Road is a transformative step for our students, offering them an environment where they can thrive and excel.”

Barry also stated, “Our vision extends beyond academic success; we aim to nurture and develop the potential of every student, ensuring they have the support, resources, and opportunities to navigate their educational journey confidently. I extend my heartfelt thanks to everyone involved. Together, we are not just building a school; we are laying the foundation for our students' future success and well-being.”

Chris Richardson, Chief Executive Officer, Prosper Learning Trust said, “I want to pay tribute to everybody who has contributed to the delivery of this wonderful new school. Primarily to Bowmer and Kirkland whose skill and professionalism is apparent in every element of the completed building and its surrounding environment. But also to Northumberland Council, Mott McDonald, the Department of Education, and my own colleagues at Prosper Learning Trust. It has been a genuinely collaborative effort and I’m certain that the great work that Barry and his team will do here to support children with SEMH will be a fitting legacy to that collective effort and give the local community a significant public asset they can be proud of.”

Councillor Guy Renner-Thompson, Cabinet Member for Inspiring Young People, said: “I’m delighted to welcome The Gilbert Ward Academy to our Northumberland family of schools. The building looks absolutely fantastic and it is brilliant to see pupils and staff settling into this flagship facility. “It’s a really exciting time for education in Northumberland as we invest in schools across the county to make sure we have first-class facilities to support first-class teaching that can meet the needs of all our children and young now and for generations to come.” 

Councillor Anna Watson, who represents the Isabella ward, said: “This amazing new school is going to make a huge difference to our young people in Blyth and from across the county. I’d like to thank everyone in the community who has supported the school so far and it’s brilliant to see it open its doors and I am looking forward seeing the young people thrive and grow.” 

Ben Richardson, Project Manager, Bowmer + Kirkland, said: “It has been an absolute privilege for Bowmer + Kirkland to be able to build the region's first ever Passivhaus SEMH School in Blyth for Prosper Learning Trust. Our collaboration with the Department for Education, Prosper Learning Trust and the wider project team has allowed us to design & build a school with classrooms fitted with the latest technology, alongside numerous group and individual breakout spaces, designed to support emotional regulation which will ensure that young people are given the best possible start in life from learning in modern, state of the art facilities.”