Providing opportunities for children with special educational needs – in the locations where they are needed most – has always been at the heart of Kedleston Group’s ethos. To meet increasingly specialist needs, particularly to support children who are autistic, the group has invested significantly in creating new bespoke schools in locations across England which have been carefully designed to provide the best environment possible. Anna tells us more:
“Kedleston Group began more than 15 years ago and since then we have always strived to develop our schools in partnership and consultation with local authorities to ensure we create provisions in the places where they are needed, and – importantly – that they provide the kind of expertise and support which is needed.
“Specialist education has evolved radically in these past 15 years. While there is still clearly a need for schools to provide specialist SEMH environments, we have seen a huge increase in demand for specific schools which are expert in supporting children who have social, and communication needs and for those environments to be autism-friendly.
“To reflect that changing need, we have also evolved as an organisation, particularly in the London area. Some providers may shy away from opening provisions in and around London; it’s very expensive to do so both from a property perspective and staffing costs can be higher also.
“But we knew, from our discussions with local authorities, and enquiries from parents, that London was exactly where we needed to help expand capacity and ensure children were able to receive the autism specialist support they needed to meet their full potential.
“We began by investing in our East London school Leaways to create a quiet learning zone which offered a peaceful learning space for children. With muted colours and lighting – and a specially-trained team – it offered a way for children, some who had been out of school for a long time – to re-engage with learning in a space where they felt comfortable and safe, and where their needs were understood and met. Many of those children were then able to successfully integrate slowly into the rest of the school, some returning to mainstream provision, which is our ultimate aim.
“Brookways School, in Sutton, followed. The school was created ‘from scratch’ to specifically meet the needs of children with autism. It was hugely successful and demand increased to the point where we recently invested significantly in expanding the school so it can offer education for up to 80 pupils.
“Last year in North London the Group welcomed Silverways School in Enfield which also offers education for children who are autistic and provides a specially-designed and carefully created environment to best meet their needs. And most recently the London schools were joined by Fernways School in Surrey which also offers an autism-specific environment.
“In London alone we have invested significant amounts in creating high quality bespoke environments to support children and young people who have social and communication needs and we are incredibly proud to be have been able to do so.
“Creating these schools gives us the chance to support more children and families, many who have struggled to find appropriate educational placements. We hear from both parents and children that being able to come to school in these supportive and autism-friendly and focused environments has been incredibly beneficial – and in some cases “life-changing”.
We are proud that all Schools are rated Good with Ofsted.