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Work starts on Oxfordshire's first school for autistic pupils
WORK on the first academy for autistic children in Oxfordshire has officially started.
The school, which will be run by MacIntyre Academies, is due to open on the former Ormerod school site in Waynflete Road, Barton, next September.
And it could bring an end to journeys of up to 200 miles for some pupils.
Oxfordshire County Council has stumped up £4m for the project and MacIntyre Academies yesterday launched a fundraising bid for a further £250,000 to fund specialist equipment for the school.
The organisation will be holding various events over the next few months to help raise the money.
The school will offer education for 25 students between 11 to 19 and will also allow up to 16 children to live on the site on either a long-term basis or for respite care.
County council leader Ian Hudspeth said: “At the moment, we haven’t got a facility like this in the county.
“Many children attend schools such as this outside the county which is an added cost for the council and it can be disruptive to family life.
“The residential unit is going to be beneficial for everyone and I understand that for those children who are staying on the occasional day for respite, their bedrooms will always be made up for their particular needs, which will help the children.”
Gita Lobo, from Children in Touch, which supports autistic children and their families in the county, said: “Having the option for your child to be educated closer to home would be invaluable to a lot of families.”
MacIntyre Academies chief executive Brenda Mullen said the charity was still in the process of identifying children who could start in the next academic year.
She said: “The most important thing about this is that it is in Oxfordshire. A lot of children who go to a school like this are having to go elsewhere than the county, sometimes between 100 and 200 miles away.
“This will be an extra resource for children.”
Melinda Tilley , Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet member for children, education and families, said: “No child, regardless of their disabilities, should be denied an excellent education that is close to home.
“Parents have told me that this type of residential special school in Oxfordshire is long overdue.”
Janet Johnson, special educational needs manager at the county council, said: “We are delighted that MacIntyre Academies will be running the new academy.”
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