News Archive

New special schools to create 3,500 places

The Department for Education has announced that thousands of new school places are being created for children with special educational needs or those facing additional challenges in mainstream education, providing tailored support to help children thrive.

Every region in the country will benefit from a new school, which include 37 special free schools and two alternative provision free schools. The new schools will boost choice for parents and provide specialist support and education for pupils with complex needs such as autism, severe learning difficulties or mental health conditions, and those who may have been or are at risk of being excluded from mainstream schools.

The 39 will create 3,459 extra places for pupils and will be located as follows:

  • Three will be in the North East providing 200 places;
  • Five will be in the Yorkshire and Humber region providing 500 places;
  • Six will be in the North West providing 400 places;
  • One in the East Midlands providing 50 places;
  • Four in the West Midlands providing over 400 places;
  • Four in the East of England providing over 300 places;
  • Five in London providing over 400 places;
  • Six in the South West providing 500 places;
  • Three in the South East providing over 300 places;
  • Two alternative provision free schools in the West Midlands creating 100 places for children who have been, or are at danger of being, excluded from mainstream education.

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Head reports that yoga helps behaviour

The BBC reports that children with autism and ADHD attending a primary school in Norfolk have been participating in a trial involving yoga classes.

Head at Reedham Primary, Chris Edwards told The BBC:

“We have seen how the practice of yoga has a profound impact on certain children. They appear to be calmer and more at peace with themselves and their surroundings.

“By being more in control of their feelings, their behaviour and attitudes towards learning and life in general have improved.”


Calls for home-schooled children to be registered

The BBC has reported England’s school’s commissioner, Anne Longfield, has produced a report estimating that almost 60,000 children were educated at home at any one time in 2018, with the report finding that a small number of schools were responsible for the majority of children moving to home education.

Ms Longfield has expressed concerns that some more vulnerable children could be “off-rolled” and encouraged to move by their school.

Local authorities examined by the Children’s Commissioner found there was a 32% increase in the number of primary school children moving from school to home education between 2015/16 and 2017/18, and a 71% increase in the number of children from secondary schools.


DVLA changes policy on autistic drivers

The Guardian reported on 3 March that the DVLA were forcing people to disclose a diagnosis of autism – even if the condition did not affect their driving.

Uproar followed the announcement and as a result the DVLA had a change of heart and reversed its decision, changing the advice to read:

“You must tell DVLA if your autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) affects your ability to drive safely.”

If the DVLA had not reversed its decision the National Autistic Society had said that it would be challenging the decision under the Equality Act 2010’s provisions that relate to public sector equality duty.


Government consultation seeking views on identifying schools needing support

The consultation seeks views on proposals for a clearer, simpler approach to identifying schools that may benefit from an offer of support to help improve a school’s educational performance.

The government’s proposal is that all schools judged as ‘Requires improvement’ by Ofsted will be eligible for support, and that schools with two consecutive ‘Requires improvement’ judgements will be eligible for more intensive support.

To give your opinion visit the Department for Education’s website at

The consultation ends on 25 March 2019.


The link between autism and anorexia

The BBC has highlighted research conducted by research charity Autistica which suggests that the NHS needs to change the way in which it assesses eating orders to take into account links with autism.

Will Mandy, a leading autism researcher, from University College London believes that the “high levels of stress and anxiety” caused by autism going undiagnosed in childhood and adolescence can contribute to people experiencing severe mental health conditions, such as eating disorders.

Autistica’s director of science, Dr James Cusack, is calling for new guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) to reflect this.

He pointed to three separate studies carried out in 2015 and 2017 that suggested 15% of women with anorexia also have autism.

For more on this story see the BBC’s website at,4D1C,V0TKD,ERDX,1

For more on the work of Autistica visit


Disabled boy has benefits axed

The Mirror newspaper has reported on the case of a six year old boy with a deformed ankle who has been deprived of his specialised car and £4,230 per year allowance after being told that he can “put one foot in front of another”.

Leon Berman who lives in Staffordshire was born with a condition that has affected the growth of his left leg. He has undergone several operations, wears a shield around his ankle, leg and foot, and faces more hospital procedures.

No longer having the DLA funding which was used partly to fund a car has left Leon having to use his wheelchair to get to and from his school because he suffers pain after walking for just five minutes.

Leon’s Mum has appealed the decision but the DWP remain steadfast because Leon can put one foot in front of the other and can cross the road.

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