I was delighted to open a brand new specialist school to support children and young people who are on the autism spectrum.

Brookways School is the latest to be opened by Kedleston Group, providing education and support for boys and girls who may have complex needs. The school is based in North Cheam and has opened its doors following a successful registration inspection by Ofsted.

The independent specialist school offers places to children aged between seven and 16 with autism, including Asperger’s Syndrome, higher functioning autism, social emotional and mental health issues, ADHD and other challenges. The school supports young people for whom other education environments have not been able to meet their needs.

Head Teacher Melanie Whitfield is an experienced ASC practitioner and her vision for Brookways is for it to provide a vibrant learning space where up to 40 children can receive the educational and additional support they need to help them achieve their full potential. Additional therapeutic support such as including occupational therapy and speech and language therapy will be available “in-house”.

Melanie and a number of her key team members previously worked within the specialist autism provision of sister school Leaways, also operated by Kedleston Group, and helped the school achieve an Outstanding judgement from Ofsted.

She said: “We are very lucky here at Brookways. We have a really experienced team who have worked extensively with young people on the autism spectrum and their families to create educational environments and plans which suit the individual needs of the child.

“Before opening Brookways, we worked with our architects and building teams to ensure the environment here at the school was built in a bespoke way, creating learning spaces which are calm and welcoming and which take into account the sensory and other needs of the children learning here.

“The school environment should be enabling for young people with consideration on colour, lighting and other elements. Brookways offers all of these including muted colour schemes, specialist lighting, individual work stations and visual communication.

“Classes here at Brookways are small and the curriculum, broadly following the National Curriculum, is tailored to individual needs and interests, but with a focus on supporting children to achieve meaningful qualifications and learning skills to support life outside of school and to move into further education and work. Social and communication skills are embedded in the curriculum with timetabled lessons focusing on social skills, turn taking, listening and responding.

“We’re thrilled the school has been registered and that we are able to support young people and their families.”

It was a pleasure to see the new facilities that will be so vital to children who are on the autistic spectrum and thank you especially to Ben who showed me around.