A NEW 125-place free school for children with autism spectrum disorder and communication needs has taken a step forward.

The Department for Education has announced the sponsors for 14 new special free schools for children with additional needs, including children with autism set to be delivered around the country.

Catch22 Multi Academy Trust – which already runs five special schools and an alternative provision school – will open the 125-place special school for children aged four to 16 with autism spectrum disorder and social communication needs in Basingstoke.

The trust aims to increase access to one-to-one and mentoring opportunities through a mixture of off-site and extra curricular events in order to improve the self-esteem and self-confidence of learners.

A site for the school has been identified for this special free school at the former Chineham Park Primary School site.

The free school is aiming to be opened in September 2020.

The sponsorship announcement comes after new figures show that almost 222,000 children and young people with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND) have had their care reviewed, as part of the government’s introduction of new Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans.

The government has also launched a national trial to give the SEND Tribunal new powers, which give parents and young people new rights to appeal decisions on the social care and health parts of their plan. alongside their existing rights around education.

This new approach includes announcing the sponsors who will deliver the 14 new special free schools to create more than 1,100 additional good school places .

Catch22 provides young people aged four to 18 with alternative education in order for them to progress and succeed in sustained education or employment.

Children and families minister Nadhim Zahawi said: “We want every child to have the support they need to unlock their potential, whatever their background and no matter what challenges they face.

“Our new Education, Health and Care Plans are putting the views of young people with special educational needs and disabilities and their families at the heart of the process so they can help shape the support they receive.

“It’s been a huge task to transfer every young person to one of these plans but local authorities have risen to the challenge with almost 222,000 cases reviewed and I congratulate them for it.

“We are now working with councils to make sure they carry out the remaining reviews and the new EHC plans are of the highest quality To complement this work we are also opening new special free schools across the country that will provide tailored support.” for over a thousand children to ensure they have access to the excellent education that every child deserves.”