The Department for Education has approved the National Autistic Society’s (NAS) bid to run two specialist free schools – one in Lambeth for 78 pupils, and one in Cheshire East for 60 pupils. This builds on the NAS’s first free school, which is due to open in Reading in September.
These schools will help to address the need for more autism-specific school in the UK. A recent NAS report found that 30 per cent 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. The planned free schools will prepare pupils for adulthood by offering them opportunities and experiences in their communities, therefore ensuring that they retain an active role in their local area.
Mark Lever, Chief Executive of the NAS, said:
“We’re thrilled to have this opportunity to work with local parents to increase autism specific education in the UK. Autism is a spectrum condition that affects everyone differently, so it is vital that families can choose from a range of schools and access the best education for their children locally. This is precisely why the NAS was set up over 50 years ago. Our new free schools will continue this legacy and support more young people with autism to lead the life they choose.”