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(UK) Abingdon: Autism school for 16-19 yr olds planned; nationally "lack of provision"

Jun 7, 2022, Herald Series: Abingdon special school plans to open sixth form in Old Gaol https://www.heraldseries.co.uk/news/20192053.abingdon-special-school-plans-open-sixth-form-old-gaol/

S. Central England


A NEW sixth form designed for young adults with autism, who struggle in mainstream education, could make the Old Abingdon Gaol their home.

The Unicorn School on Marcham Road in Abingdon has submitted a planning application, on the Vale of White Horse District Council website, to change the use of an empty unit in The Old Gaol from a restaurant to a new sixth form college.


The Unicorn School is an independent day school for children from seven to 16 years who have learning differences, such as, dyslexia, dyspraxia, language and communication needs.


Now, the special school is looking to “fill a gap” for those who struggle to achieve in mainstream school and provide life and work skills for young adults between the ages of 16 to 19....


Headteacher of The Unicorn School, Andrew Day, said: “We want to give them the life skills and the work skills, so when they leave us, they can contribute to society rather than potentially going on benefits.”


Alex Foster is the assistant head of The Unicorn School and is set to be the head of the new sixth form, she also is the schools special educational needs coordinator (SENCO)....


Plans for the new school come as more than 400 children a year with educational needs are being sent out of the county because there are not sufficient schools in the area.

A national special educational needs or disability (SEND) review published this year also highlighted there is a lack of provision for people with educational needs over the age of 16.

He said: “There is such a need. Over the last three to four years, we have had 250 enquiries a year about placement at this school.


“Unfortunately, for about 200 of those pupils we were not set up to meet their needs because they needed a more autistic specialist environment. That is why we decided we need a sister school.”


The school has been designed to take on 24-32 students and it could open as early as September 2023.


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