A new school is being built in Reading, Berkshire; a collaboration between the National Autistic Society, parents, volunteer groups, local authorities and other schools, the Thames Valley School is among the new breed of free schools in England built to aid five-to-19-year-olds on the autistic spectrum.
Autism gives children the unique ability to concentrate on narrow topics that other kids might find mundane. Fiona Veitch, the school’s head teacher, says she’s driven to use these “special interests” to give the children a vocation and help them learn. She is also working with an architect to make the school as autism-friendly as possible.
The autistic children won’t be educated in isolation from the non-autistic kids. Thomas Valley plans to share its resources and invite mainstream pupils to after-school clubs. Some pupils will also attend classes at other schools.
Veitch and her staff intend to help pupils meet the national expectation of five GCSEs or more, while also providing strategies to help them cope with their autism.