‘Groundbreaking’ cutting-edge work begins to expand and renovate Bishopton’s Student Guidance Unit

Multimillion-pound work is underway to convert the Bishopton Pupils’ Reference Unit (PRU) in Billingham into a purpose-built school building.

When complete, the newly renovated and expanded facility will connect the two existing buildings.

And the new state-of-the-art facilities will include two science labs, professional areas such as a construction skills area, a hair and beauty clinic, and a gym.

A new hall, kitchen, staff room and multipurpose play area will also be built.

The £6million works are being funded by Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council as part of its £57.7m investment to improve borough school buildings.

The transformation, which includes zero-carbon technologies in the design, is expected to be completed in December 2023.

Ms Emily Carr, co-director of Bishopton PRU, said: “This development is precisely what we need for our children and it will help them to feel safe and valued, which is vitally important and what ‘they deserve.

“Our students can also enjoy a dedicated space where they can have their lunches, while the staff can benefit from a real staff room.

“Even small changes, like separate entrances for students and visitors, will make a big difference.”

Ms Rachel Campbell, co-director of Bishopton PRU, said: “This is a huge investment for us and we are truly grateful.

“It’s going to make a huge difference to staff and students to have a purpose-built building.

“We’ve looked at every detail. From the science lab to the professional field, there will be so many benefits for kids.”

Councilor Lisa Evans, Cabinet Member of Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council for Children and Young People, said: “Having a purpose-built building will absolutely be a game-changer for Bishopton PRU and that’s really exciting to see the work begin.

“We have worked closely with the staff to ensure that the building can help the school meet the needs of its students for many years to come.

“Massive investment in schools across the borough helps give our children the best start in life and we are committed to supporting all schools, whether maintained, diocesan or academy. Of course, we also include special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and pre-school provision as part of our investment.

“It’s nice to know what a difference we’re making.”

Bishopton PRU, which is an academy of the Tees Valley Collaborative Trust, provides educational provision for Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4 students who are at risk of being excluded or who have been excluded from school.

For more information, visit the Bishopton PRU website.

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Christopher S. Washington