School set for £488k add-on

Blacklands School
Blacklands School

A PRIMARY school is being given a new £488,000 facility to help teach autistic children.

East Sussex County Council confirmed this week it would push ahead with plans to develop Blacklands School despite the authority facing up to more than £100million in cuts.

Once completed, the new building will cater for up to 10 autistic youngsters and help provide specialist support.

It will also allow the children to stay in mainstream education at the same time as having their specific needs met.

The youngsters will follow the national curriculum, attend regular classes but also benefit from one-to-one teaching.

The move comes after a lengthy consultation with parents and staff and has received the full backing of the Osborne Close school’s governors – and it is expected to be up and running by September.

And, as well as a main teaching room, the new build will also boast a smaller group room and a separate outdoor play space.

There will also be a combined office for two staff members with storage space and new bathroom and laundry facilities.

Councillor Meg Stroude, the county council’s head of children services, said the plans for Blacklands were part of a wider strategy to provide more support for the growing number of children diagnosed with autism locally.

Specialist autism centres are already in place elsewhere in East Sussex, and the mooted St Leonards Academy will have similar facilities if given the go-ahead by government.

The Hastings Academy will also have specialist departments for pupils with communication problems.

An excited Cllr Stroude said: “We are building a network of support for young people but we’re doing so, where possible, within mainstream schools. This means they are not isolated and can participate in school life alongside their friends to the maximum level possible.”

“There is a growing number of children diagnosed with autism, both in East Sussex and nationally, and it is right that we provide the right environments within which they can learn and develop.”