Hastings college is first in UK to get autism award

Sussex Coast College Hastings (SCCH) last week became the only general further education college in the country to be awarded autism accreditation status from the National Autistic Society (NAS).

A review team from the NAS carried out a visit of the town centre campus and decided that the college’s department for pupils with learning difficulties ticked all the boxes.

Their report found that the college’s provision for students with autism was strong, particularly in helping the pupil’s adapt to new surroundings, and also praised the quality of SCCH’s support network.

Alison Russell, head of foundation learning at SCCH, said she believed the inclusive culture at Station Plaza is a huge benefit to autistic students.

She said: “Students achieve greater independence by learning skills in meaningful settings, such as a real-life home skills area where they can make a bed and master the use of household appliances.

“The specialist learning environment is located in the heart of the college, giving students access to the breadth of college facilities.”

And Lesley Watson, curriculum leader in supported education, said: “We are very excited to be awarded Autism Accreditation status, it provides a seal of quality and confidence for learners, parents and carers when choosing educational provision for a young person with autism.”

Alison Barton, a lecturer in supported education, told the Observer the college helps autistic students in a host of practical ways.

“Supported education raises learners’ aspirations and independence,” she said. “With additional support, many pupils are able to gain vocational skills as well developing communication and social interaction.”

Staff at the college were presented with an official certificate by Robert Pritchett, the NAS director of Autism Accreditation.