A school for almost 80 autistic pupils opened today.
The National Autistic Society’s (NAS) Vanguard School is for children and young people from Lambeth and the surrounding boroughs who are on the autism spectrum – and looking to go on to further education and employment.
The school will cater for students aged between 11 and 19, with a phased intake, starting with Years 7 and 8.
It has been created by the NAS after Lambeth council saw the need for pupils haven’t been able to get the support they need in mainstream school.
The school is currently accepting referrals for April and September 2020. It is the National Autistic Society’s ninth school, the result of years of joint work by parents, Lambeth council and the Department for Education.
The school was designed and purpose-built for autistic children by Pozzoni Architecture on a site in Lollard Street in Kennington.
The two-storey, 2,500m2 building has 14 classrooms, a sensory room, library and two therapy rooms.
The building also has a multi-use hall which will be shared with the local community out-of-hours, along with a kitchen, storage and community break-out spaces.
Antonia Evans is the school’s head teacher, after joining from University Technical College (UTC), where she was principal and previously led their special educational needs provision.
Every autistic child is different and the school’s spcialist team will build the curriculum around each student. They will focus on helping young people to achieve their qualifications, while also building their wider knowledge and life skills so they can be as independent as possible in adulthood and prepare for further education and employment.
Antonia Evans, head teacher of the National Autistic Society’s Vanguard School, said: “We are incredibly proud and excited to welcome our first students next week.
“We’ve been preparing for this moment for a long time. I can’t wait to get going and help our students to achieve their ambitions.
“A huge thank you to the many, many people who have worked so hard to get us to this point, especially Lambeth council, the Department of Education and, most of all, local parents. Without such strong backing and determination, our school would not be here.”
Fleur Bothwick, chairwoman of the National Autistic Society’s Vanguard Schools Local Governing Body and NAS Academies Trust Board Trustee, said: “I’m delighted that our school is ready to open.
“There is a real need for this type of specialist autism support in the borough. Now it’s in place, we can start making a difference to generations of children and young people on the autism spectrum and their families. Our school will also be a huge benefit to the local community, and to other schools, services and employers.
“Thanks to everyone who has worked so hard over the years to make this happen: other parents in the borough, the National Autistic Society, the Department for Education and the council.”
Kirstie Fulthorpe, director of education at the National Autistic Society and managing director for the NAS Academies Trust, said: “This is the National Autistic Society’s ninth school, over 50 years after we opened the world’s first ever school for autistic children.
“This is a huge moment for our charity, the council and of course all the parents who’ve been working hard to make the school a reality.
“Now it’s time to get to work and give local autistic children the best possible education and chance in life.”
Find out more about the National Autistic Society’s Vanguard School click here.
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