HOWARD of Effingham School has been chosen as one of four sites to develop a “Centre of Education Excellence” for young children with autism following a partnership between Surrey County Council and the National Autistic Society.
The £4 million project, which will be funded by the National Autistic Society (NAS), comes after a review of services in 2012 that found an on-going shortage of maintained provision in the county for young people with high-functioning autism and related conditions.
It is hoped the new partnership will increase the provision by 40 places during the first phase, which should be completed by September 2015, with a total of 80 places by the end of phase two.
Linda Kemeny, Surrey County Council’s Cabinet Member for Schools and Learning, said: “We want to ensure all Surrey children get the best education possible, so this partnership will give superb support in mainstream schools to pupils with autism.”
The education centre at the Effingham school is set to be included in phase 2 of the project with the completion date to be confirmed by the school and the National Autistic Society.
By building the education centres within mainstream schools it is hoped that autistic students will be able to get a broader education while also developing better communication skills.
According to the report the centres ensure autistic pupils have access to support for autism-specific needs, but also get a new emphasis on social communication and specialist teaching across the entire GCSE curriculum.
A £50,000 contribution will be provided by the county council towards each centre with the rest coming from the NAS via a financial contribution from charitable foundation, the Cullum Family Trust.
According to the society there is no set amount allocated for each school and any over-running costs will be met the NAS.
Mark Lever, chief executive of The National Autistic Society, said: “The NAS is delighted to be working in partnership with Surrey County Council and four local schools on this exciting project.”
He added: “Many young people with autism can find it difficult to cope in a mainstream school.
“The NAS Cullum Centres will make this possible by providing autism support tailored to each student, along with the opportunity to participate in mainstream school life and lessons.”