CHILDREN with Asperger's syndrome and other forms of autism will, for the first time, receive the education and support they need in Bolton after town hall chiefs revealed specialist units were being created in two outstanding primary schools.
Until now primary children with the condition faced being bussed out of town for their schooling or being placed “inappropriately” in Bolton’s schools as the local education authority lacked the provision to support the youngsters.
Now plans have been drawn up to extend St Teresa’s RC Primary School, Little Lever, and Blackrod Church School to develop a self-contained autistic spectrum disorder unit, which will accommodate a main teaching space and a quiet room.
St Teresa’s has been graded outstanding by Ofsted and Blackrod Church School was rated good by inspectors, who described its work with children with special educational needs as “outstanding”.
A Bolton Council spokesman said: “Children with Asperger's syndrome and other high-functioning autistic spectrum disorders are often able to achieve well in school, although they find it difficult to socially interact and communicate with others.
“Some of these pupils find the environment of a mainstream school so challenging that Bolton Council has to arrange schooling for them outside of the borough, even though they could access mainstream education with professional support and help and access to an ASD friendly area within school.”
The specialist facilities and teaching support will be in place from September and each school will educate between six to eight children.
The spokesman added: “This will give parents and pupils the option of being educated in mainstream schools in the borough.
“We already provide a unit of this type for secondary school pupils at Bolton St Catherine’s Academy.”
The new units are seen as an important addition to the education provision available to children in Bolton and will be funded through the schools’ delegated budgets.
The units are funded from the high needs block of the dedicated schools grant.
The schools will receive £10,000 per place plus top up funding per pupil of £12,899. The total if all 12 places were taken up would be £275,000 and would cover the building costs.
The extensions will also enhance the schools by creating a new room for Blackrod Church School and a new library and additional space for St Teresa’s.