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(UK) Kent: 40 place school for autism/mental health/anxiety ok'd

Feb 20, 2024, Kent Online: SEND school Elmley Dray open in Minster, Sheppey, after Ofsted and Department for Education (DfE) approval

SE England

. . .And, nearly nine months after the change-of-name was announced, the independent specialist school has now been given the nod following an Ofsted inspection last month and now approval by the Department for Education (DfE).

Already open and accepting applications, the school will cater for up to 40 pupils aged between nine and 19 and will feature classes of no more than eight.

It is aimed to help pupils who have a diagnosis of autism, or have autistic traits, together with difficulties with mental health and anxiety.

Students' sensory requirements are to be met through "a small learning environment which includes a sensory room, outdoor spaces and a therapy garden".

All teachers will either be qualified and trained in autism, or have qualifications in mental health with a background of working within the SEN community.

Head teacher Tom Furnell says the school will help parents and pupils across Swale who are struggling to find places at other SEN schools. . . .

"So we are raring to go and are aiming to cater for pupils in Sheppey, but also Swale and even potentially Medway [as] pupils can be transported a long way to get a place at a SEND school.

"I am very passionate about this job so helping the local community and those close to home is our aim."

A lack of SEN resources on the Isle of Sheppey has long been criticised, with many parents forced to travel to Sittingbourne and beyond to take their children to school.

However, Elmley Dray will provide academic routes for SEN pupils including functional skills and GCSE options.

This will be done by creating a “blended approach” to their transition and meeting their needs slowly as the school evolves, in order to help them transition into Key Stage 3.. . .


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