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(UK) Leicestershire special school gets $800K (US) to expand

Dec 20, 2019, Melton Times: Melton’s Birch Wood is proving to be a very special school https://www.meltontimes.co.uk/education/melton-s-birch-wood-is-proving-to-be-a-very-special-school-1-9180849 Melton’s Birch Wood really is a special school in every sense. Staff teach 170 children and young people aged from four to 19 with a wide range of additional support needs. And their work is nowhere more impressive than in the programme for youngsters diagnosed on the autism spectrum. So much so that the school has just become one of only a few in Leicestershire to gain accreditation for its autism provision from the National Autistic Society. It comes at a time when Birch Wood is expanding with building well underway on a new £600,000 [$800K US] teaching block for students aged 16 and over with more complex sensory and physical needs…. Head teacher Rosalind Hopkins, who has worked there for three years, said the school was delighted with the autism accreditation because it recognises the important work staff do in helping local young people reach their full potential despite the challenges they face in life. She told the Melton Times: “What makes us so happy about getting the autism accreditation is that it should be a four-year project and yet we have achieved it in just three…. The planned new immersion room is set to provide a 4D sensory learning experience for pupils unlike anything they’ve been exposed to before…. By April next year, it is planned that the number of young people on the autism spectrum taught at the school will increase with six classes in total. There are currently 170 students at Birch Wood, which has 140 staff, and pupil numbers are expected to rise to more than 190 when the new term begins next September. Mrs Hopkins added: “The school is becoming really popular but that figure of 190 is as big as I would like to see it become…. The growth at Birch Wood relates closely to the county council’s investment of £30million [$40M US] on improving special educational needs and disability (SEND) provision for children and young people and creating almost 700 extra places in schools across Leicestershire…. “At the heart of these improvements has been the school’s specialist autism provision. “The excellent work within the provision has been a driver for improvement across the whole school.”