Honywood School to open Autism Support Centre

A new purpose built centre to support learners with autism opened in 2017 at Honywood. As part of an Essex wide initiative each Local Authority will provide an Autism Support Centre at a primary and secondary school, both of which are supported by a local special school.  Thriftwood School and College already supports Honywood and Kelvedon St. Mary’s Primary School in this new venture.

The initiative stems from the need to provide educational provision to meet the full range of needs of children and young people with Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC).  In recent years there has been a significant increase in the number of children and young people diagnosed with ASC due to improved awareness and wider diagnosis criteria.  The demand for specialist provision to meet the needs of these children is high and increasing.  The Autism Support Centre at Honywood will provide 15 places for these youngsters incrementally over the next few years.

This is a fantastic step forward in the provision of specialist mainstream education for children and young people with autism in Essex.  For a number of years there has been increasing awareness of autism in mainstream schools, but the understanding of how to provide a fully inclusive learning and social environment has lagged behind.  Mainstream schools can be confusing and often overwhelming places for many youngsters with autism.  For some the anxiety this causes can seriously affect their attendance, self-esteem and social development.  These support centres will provide a safe learning environment and allow them to access the mainstream school at their own pace.

Children admitted to the Autism Support Centre will have an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) showing complex and additional needs related to autism.  Most will already be attending a mainstream primary school and will be encountering significant difficulties linked to the autism.  Some may be attending a special school and are making enough progress to make the transition to Honywood.

All applications for admission to the Autism Support Centre are made though the local Statutory Assessment Service team who are responsible for initiating and managing the statutory assessment process, issuing and reviewing Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) and arranging provision and placements for learners with statements/EHCPs.  This team works closely with the school to ensure places are allocated in accordance with need. Please contact Mr Henry Cordy McKenna at Honywood School if you would like to discuss the facility and for a visit to our school.