Call for funding for new autism specific school in West Norfolk
A West Norfolk councillor is calling on the county council to set aside £10 million in its budget for a new autism-specific school in the borough.
Sandra Squire, a borough and county councillor, said she believes there has been “far too little” investment in education for children with autism and is hoping to see this change.
Mrs Squire has joined forces with fellow county councillor and Independent member Mick Castle to make the proposal.
The pair, who have different political backgrounds with Mr Castle a former Labour councillor and Mrs Squire previously a Conservative councillor, say they have formed a “strong alliance” in the Independent Group and are both passionate about education.
The proposal has come ahead of Norfolk County Council’s budget setting meeting scheduled for Monday.
Mrs Squire said: “With cluster budgets being cut and therefore support in mainstream schools being under intense pressure, there is going to be an even greater need for schools who not only cater for children with autism, but understand them and allow them to thrive in a suitable environment.
“For too long there has been far too little investment in education for children with autism and this needs to change.
“I can’t really put it any better than Chris Packham did in a recent interview with the BBC – ‘They’re worth the investment, they deserve the investment. Everyone deserves a fair, proper education’.”
The pair say it is estimated that preliminary work and studies would cost about £100,000 in 2018-19, with the main construction costs occurring in 2019-20.
A further £10,000 would be pledged from the Norfolk Futures transformation budget for 2018-19 to “engage with a suitable academy trust” to run the school, the councillors added.
Although new schools have been built, the councillors say there are not enough specialist places and children in West Norfolk travel long distances to school each day.