June 27, 2019, Reading Chronicle: Reading school to open new new autism resource centre https://www.readingchronicle.co.uk/news/17734269.reading-school-to-open-new-new-autism-resource-centre/ A NEW resource centre for children with autism is being officially opened in Reading next week. The Blessed Mary Ward Centre, located at Blessed Hugh Faringdon Catholic School in Southcote, will provide 30 places for youngsters with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The new £1.9m [$2.4M U.S.] provision is part of a wider initiative to improve and increase the diversity of provision for the growing number of children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) in the borough…. Blessed Hugh Faringdon previously provided places for pupils with autism in a modular classroom block which had exceeded its useful life. The block was demolished, along with the caretaker's house, to make way for the new resource centre, which has places for double the number of children. Simon Uttley, head teacher of Blessed Hugh Faringdon Catholic School, said: "We are delighted to be able to provide a first-class resource for our students. … There is currently a shortage of special school settings for children who are on the autistic spectrum within Reading and demand is growing…. Cllr Ashley Pearce, lead councillor for Education, said: "I would like to congratulate everyone involved in the project to deliver this excellent new resource centre for Reading. "The Blessed Mary Ward Centre will provide a modern teaching environment for children with autism and will help meet the growing demand for secondary places for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities in the borough. … Reading was recently successful in its joint bid, with West Berkshire and Wokingham councils, for a new SEN free school in the borough, which will have places for 150 students. The school will welcome children on the autistic spectrum, as well as pupils with social emotional and mental health needs…. Antony Kildare, managing director of Brighter Futures for Children, said: "This is a much-needed resource and we are very pleased to have been able to play a part in bringing this about. "We are fully committed to increasing and improving the SEND offer in Reading and to working alongside the council and others to make this happen. "I'd like to congratulate everyone involved in this project. "It's inspiring to see what can be achieved when we all work together."