National charity supports Suffolk parents’ bid for local autism school

NASLocal parents are rejoicing after learning that The NAS Academies Trust plans to submit a bid to the Department for Education (DfE) to open a specialist free school for children with autism in Suffolk.

The NAS Academes Trust is run by The National Autistic Society (NAS) the UK’s leading charity for people with autism.

The Trust started working with a group of local parents earlier this year and is particularly interested in their ‘Suffolk Vision’ of a special school for children with autism that is part of an integrated ‘one stop shop’ which provides a range of support for local families affected by autism.

The DfE bid will involve the Trust, local parents and Suffolk County Council working together to establish that there is a need for this school. As part of this process, local parents and families are invited to two events where they can hear more about the proposed school.

The Trust will give a presentation at both events and there will be for a chance for parents to ask questions.

Event Details

Date: Tuesday 8 October
Time: 6.30-8pm
Location: Suffolk New College, Ipswich

Date: Wednesday 9 October
Time: 10.30am-12 noon
Location: Kirkley Centre, Lowestoft

Helen Hayes from Suffolk, who has a 14 year old son with Asperger syndrome, a form of autism, said:

“This is an amazing opportunity for Suffolk, where there is a recognised lack of appropriate educational provision for many children and young people who are diagnosed with autism.  I, for one, am delighted to think that there is the possibility of a specialist school, which also incorporates a local hub for the disability.”

Lynne Thomas from Suffolk, who has a 13 year old son with Asperger syndrome and complex needs, said: “We hope that people will come along to the events and show their interest in and support for this project. This is an opportunity to hear about The NAS Academies Trust’s plans for the school and to show your support for a much-needed local resource.”

Jane Moir from Suffolk, who also has a child with autism, said: “Many families who live with autism are struggling, and these struggles are often greater for people who live in rural and disadvantaged areas because of difficulties accessing resources and support.  I believe that this proposed school will be of real benefit to the Suffolk community.”

Cheryl Sharland, Head of Inclusive Services at Suffolk County Council said: “We are keen to develop local autism provision for children and we’re delighted that The NAS Academies Trust has identified Suffolk as one of the areas they are considering for an autism specific free school.”

Ben Higgins, Education Development Lead at The NAS Academies Trust, said: “We’re thrilled to be working with local parents and Suffolk County Council to develop a bid for a special school for children with autism. The support we’ve received so far from local parents and groups makes it clear that this type of school is needed in Suffolk.  Autism is a spectrum condition that affects everyone differently, so it’s vital that families affected by autism can choose from a range of schools and access the best education for their children locally. We look forward to meeting local parents and children to show them our plans and hear their views.”

If the DfE bid is successful, the school will open in September 2015.

The NAS Academies Trust is a network of free schools and academies, and a company limited by guarantee in England (No 7954396). Established by The National Autistic Society to develop and sponsor schools, the trust opened its first free school, Thames Valley School in Reading, in September 2013. The Trust has a dedicated team, including senior educationalists with expertise in autism-specific education. Find out more about the National Autistic Society at 

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