NAS successfully bids to run Specialist Free School in Reading
Wednesday 1st August 2012
The Department for Education has approved The National Autistic Society's bid to run a specialist free school in Reading for young people and their families across Berkshire and neighbouring counties. The autism-specific school will open its doors in September 2013 and fill the gap in current educational provision identified by Reading Borough Council.
An overwhelming 90% of local parents surveyed in November 2011 said they would be interested in there being a school for children with autism in Reading, and we worked with local authorities, voluntary groups, schools and parents in Reading, West Berkshire, Wokingham, and Windsor and Maidenhead to prepare the bid. With the capacity for approximately 50 pupils with autism between the ages of 5 and 19, the Thames Valley Free School will build upon the charity’s experience of running six highly successful schools across the UK.
Our recent report found that 30% of parents feel their child's educational placement is not adequate and 43% of children who are in autism-specific schools have to go out of their local area. A unique aspect of the new school will be partnerships with each pupil’s local school or college, keeping them informed of pupil progress and inviting them to take an active role in their progress. Pupils will have the opportunity to attend classes, activities and events at the partner school, if this is appropriate for them. The free school curriculum will also focus on helping pupils build links within the community and preparing them for adulthood.
Mark Lever, Chief Executive of The National Autistic Society, said: "This is great news for Reading and local pupils who have autism. The disability is a spectrum condition that affects everyone differently, so it is vital that families affected by autism can choose from a range of schools and access the best education for their children locally. As the NAS celebrates its 50th birthday, our new free school will continue our legacy of autism education that our founders started and support more young people with autism to lead the life they choose."