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Parents plan to open free school for autistic children in Somerset

By Somerset Guardian  |  Posted: September 29, 2012

SPECIALIST TEACHING: David Gregory, head teacher of Fosse Way School, Westfield, Susie Anderson, of Frome Autistic Support Team, Amanda Lear, of Shepton Mallet Autism Support Group, and Dr Mark Hulland, the branch officer for the Somerset Branch of the National Autistic Society

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Parent groups have taken plans to set up a school for children with autistic spectrum disorders (ASD) and language and social communication needs a step further by planning to open a new free school in Mendip in September 2014.

The groups have joined forces to set up the school and now want to hear from parents who would be interested in enrolling their children in the Mendip Free School.

A site has yet to be confirmed for the new school.

Last year the parents took their concerns to parliament and met with the Special Educational Needs Minster and also gave their input into the SEN Green Paper.

The core group consists of six parents, made up of the Frome, Shepton Mallet and Wells parent groups, who have children on the autistic spectrum and the head teacher at Fosse Way School, in Radstock, David Gregory.

Fosse Way is highly regarded for its cutting-edge approach to the education of pupils with ASD.

The school was judged as outstanding during its last two Ofsted inspections, is an academy and also has Teaching School and National Support School status.

The group is seeking to provide a high-quality alternative to mainstream provision in which children with autism across the five to 19 age range will thrive.

The school will have high expectations of individual pupils as they progress through a personalised curriculum linked to aspirational adult outcomes.

Amanda Lear, group parent, said: "We are very excited about the prospect of opening a new school in 2014 for children on the autistic spectrum, and as parents of children with specials needs, we are delighted this project is now becoming a reality and that children in Mendip and surrounding area will have a greater educational choice.

"With the recent change in government policy, it has given parents the choice of a genuine alternative to state education, and we are taking this opportunity to give our children the best possible education."

In order to take the proposal forward the parents need to gather names of children who would like attend the school.

Parents can register their support by visiting www.themendipschool.com to complete a short questionnaire.

For more information they can call Mrs Lear on 01749 840059 or send an email to office@themendipschool.com.

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