New autism provision 'will make a real difference'

Proposals to create new specialist provision for children with autism spectrum condition have been approved.

The decision by Central Bedfordshire Council’s Executive means that subject to approval from the Department for Education, eight places will be created at Ardley Hill Academy, in Dunstable, from September 2016.

They are needed to replace the six places currently hosted by Streetfield Middle School, which is to close at the end of the current academic year.

The new provision at the primary school in Lowther Road will help to meet the needs of children with autism spectrum condition across 15 wards in the south and west of Central Bedfordshire.

Before reaching their decision, Executive members considered the results of a public consultation to expand the school in which 94 per cent of respondents were in favour.

If final approval is granted then work will take place to create a new teaching space, toilet facilities, a kitchen, a meeting and intervention room and a multisensory room. The new facilities will be integrated with the main school buildings.

Councillor Mark Versallion, Executive Member for Education and Skills, said: “I am delighted that plans to create this provision for children with autism spectrum condition have been approved by Executive and we look forward to a favourable decision from the DfE soon.

“This will make a real difference to these children and their families as they will be able to attend a school close to home rather than being offered out-of-area places.

“The new provision will be fully accessible to disabled students and it will also enable outreach work to be undertaken to support other pupils in their local school setting.”

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