The Department of Education has agreed to fund a new free school for children with an autistic spectrum disorder in the Kingston and Richmond boroughs.
The school, which will open in September 2022, will provide 90 places for children aged five to 19 on the autistic spectrum and aims to deliver specialist support for these children.
Councillor Diane White, Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services including Education, said: “This is fantastic news for the borough, particularly for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities, as it means we can be sure that we are offering the very best quality education and care, closer to home.”
Kingston Council decided to make a bid for the SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities) school following its 2016 review into SEND provisions in the borough which recommended that the borough work towards creating more school places and expanding existing SEND schools.
The council said that the number of autistic children in the borough is rising and there are no longer enough specialist school places in Kingston meaning parents need to travel further afield to find appropriate places for their children.
“Providing more places in the borough enables children and young people with SEND to be educated closer their home community and friendship groups as well as reducing costs associated with placements in residential placements or those outside of Kingston,” added Councillor White.
The National Autistic Society describes autism as “a lifelong developmental disability that affects how people perceive the world and interact with others”. Autistic people usually have trouble understanding social interactions and may display behaviour that is considered strange or inappropriate by others.
They are also more likely to have other learning difficulties such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and dyslexia, so autistic children usually require extra help that is not always available in a mainstream school. This could mean an alternative teaching strategy or specialist lessons on social skills.