Express & Star

New school for autistic pupils to open in Wednesbury

Long-awaited plans to open a special school with places for more than 120 autistic children in Sandwell have been approved by the Department for Education.

The new special school will be built in Wednesbury

It was announced Elm Tree Primary Academy, a specialist provision for autistic children has been given the go ahead to open in Sandwell.

The new school is due to open in the Friar Park area of the borough in September 2022 and will be run by Victoria Academies Trust.

Following the council’s successful bid for a new special free school, the Victoria Academies Trust will work with the council to create a purpose-built school – offering 126 specialist places for primary aged pupils with autism and associated learning difficulties – in Wednesbury.

It will be built on site of the former Manor High School in Friar Park, next to Highpoint Academy, the new secondary special school for pupils with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), which is due to open in September 2021 on the same site.

Councillor Joyce Underhill, Sandwell’s cabinet member for Best Start in Life, said: “I am delighted that Victoria Park Academies Trust has been successful.

"They are a Sandwell-based multi-academy trust which already leads three highly successful schools in Smethwick and have an excellent track record in supporting children with ASD through their specialist resource bases.

“I look forward to the delivery of the new school by the Trust working in partnership with the council.”

Gurinder Singh Josan CBE, chairman of Trustees at Victoria Academies Trust said: "This will be a purpose-built school, equipped with sensory rooms, immersion rooms and therapy rooms in addition to class bases and will offer a tailored and individualised curriculum to meet the needs of each child.

"The trust currently runs a resource base for autistic children at Devonshire Infant and Junior Academies in Sandwell, overseen by Bethany Barnsley, award winning SENCO at the schools and Head of SEND for the trust.

"The success of this provision has driven the trust’s desire to expand into the special school field and we were delighted to be able to respond to a call by Sandwell Council for applications to provide this much needed facility in the borough.”

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