Gilbert Ward Academy


In May 2020 the Department for Education approved our application to move forward to the pre-opening phase of a new special free school in Northumberland for children aged 11-16 with Social Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) needs and autism. The school will be called Gilbert Ward Academy.

GWAWhen naming a school, Prosper Learning Trust, look for names that reflect and pay tribute to the heritage of the local area. Dr Gilbert Ward not only established public medical services in Blyth but also gave medical treatment during the terrible pit disaster at New Hartley in 1862. Dr Gilbert Ward was Medical Officer for the Tynemouth Board of Guardians; District Vaccinator; Certifying Factory Surgeon; Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths for Blyth; and latterly Chairman of the Blyth Local Board.

Dr Gilbert Ward was instrumental in establishing Blyth’s first hospital, Thomas Knight Memorial Hospital (now demolished).


Vision for the School

The vision, mission and culture of Gilbert Ward Academy will be fundamentally similar to those of Prosper Learning Trust. It is the vision that pupils will reach their educational potential and be prepared for adult life both intellectually and emotionally. By providing opportunities regardless of individuals’ circumstances and offering wrap around provision to both pupils and their families we will enable barriers to learning to be minimised. It is the mission of Gilbert Ward Academy to ensure this happens by:

  • Improving the educational experiences of all our pupils
  • Recognising and celebrating the achievement of both staff and pupils
  • Providing a stimulating learning environment in which the team of highly skilled staff deliver quality, well-resourced teaching to meet the needs of all pupils
  • Working in partnership with parents, trustees, governors, the Local Authority, employers, stakeholders and the wider community
  • Valuing the entire school community, promoting well-being and encouraging spiritual, moral, social and cultural development in an atmosphere that fosters the growth of respect and responsible behaviour
  • Ensuring a safe, secure and supportive environment that allows pupils to become more independent and resilient, where they can be happy and enjoy learning

Our Education Offer

Northumberland covers a large geographical area, which causes difficulties for those pupils requiring specialist educational support and may need to travel huge distances to that school. Many parents have chosen to live in the county in order to access its Special Educational Needs provision but there is now a significant need for more Social Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) specialist education to build capacity and complement the existing provision in Northumberland. Northumberland is undergoing a substantial amount of change with investment for development and growth.

This is an exciting opportunity to build an outstanding new SEMH and ASD school for the young people of Northumberland, with excellent teaching and motivating facilities in a building that will allow the pupils to enjoy their time in school, reach their potential and move successfully into a life beyond school.

Gilbert Ward Academy will provide education for up to 80 children aged 11-16, as a direct result of the increased demand for places within the Northumberland special school system and neighbouring areas. The school will compliment existing provision.

Within Prosper Learning Trust we believe we bring the expertise of SEMH and specialised autism services to enable a successful establishment of the new school. Gilbert Ward Academy is due to open in September 2023.

Proposed Site for the New School

The new school will be based in Blyth, in the South East area of Northumberland, on the site formerly occupied by Princess Louise First School on Princess Louise Road. The school will be a two-storey building and there is a large area of external space and the school will be well placed for other local facilities.

Design work is underway and further discussions will take place later in the summer and autumn term alongside the final planning application.



Consultation on Gilbert Ward Academy took place between 7 June 2021 and 16 July 2021, below is the Consultation Report.

Gilbert Ward Consultation Report

Gilbert Ward Academy