Parent urges council to build specialist autism school

Parent urges council to build specialist autism school

Simon Meechan

Parent urges council to build specialist autism school

A determined parent called for a new free school for autistic children so the days of three-hour round trips are over for pupils with high functioning autism.

Joanne Haswell is one of the founding members of Forest Bridge School. The parents are proposing creating a free school for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders aged between four and 19.

The proposed school would take over Oldfield Primary's current site in Chiltern Road. Oldfield is set to move to a new campus in Bray Road by 2015.

Joanne, whose son has autism, spoke at a Royal Borough cabinet meeting in Maidenhead Town Hall last night.

The cabinet was discussing a report which outlined candidates to take over the Chiltern Road site, who include Manor Green School. Manor Green is a special school in Elizabeth Hawkes Way catering for children aged 2 to 19.

Joanne said current provision for autistic children is 'not ideal', and many are educated out of the borough, with some facing one-and-a-half hour journeys to and from schools.

She added that there is a high level of interest in the school, saying: "Over 40 families have registered interest. We've had amazing support from other schools, head teachers and charities."

Joanne says she is 'confident' an 'outstanding' school could be created.

She added:" This will keep children with autism from being educated outside of the borough. It will save the borough money, therefore benefitting all the residents."

The cabinet agreed to approve further work looking into who will take over the site.

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