PLANS have been announced to invest over £4.6million to expand to create more specialist places at a Leicester school.
Leicester City Council plans to extend Oaklands School, in Evington, to ensure that it can meet future demand for places for pupils with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD).
Oaklands School is the first special school in Leicester to have been awarded official autism accreditation from the National Autistic Society. It has 100 pupils, aged 4 to eleven years, on roll. Around three quarters of the pupils attending the school have a diagnosis of ASD.
The new investment will extend the existing school building with seven new classrooms, toilet blocks, a changing room and meeting spaces. This will allow the school to replace an existing temporary classroom block with a purpose built and highly energy efficient new building.
This will provide an additional 24 places, increasing the permanent number on roll to 124.
The new building will feature roof mounted solar photovoltaic panels and be highly insulated to help reduce the school’s carbon footprint and energy bills.
Cllr Elly Cutkelvin, assistant city mayor for schools, said: “This major investment in expanding Oaklands School will help ensure that it continues to grow and develops as a centre of excellence.
“It will also mean that more local children with autism can be educated close to home and benefit from the school’s expertise and excellent practice. It’s very important that every child is given the best possible chance to thrive and achieve their potential during their education, whatever their needs.”
Sarah Osborne, head teacher at Oaklands School, said: “We are delighted that our school will benefit from this significant investment.
“Autistic children have very particular needs, and the environment is essential to their well-being and ability to learn. This exciting development will mean that we can use our expertise to meet the needs of a wider group of autistic pupils and families in Leicester.”
The cost of placing a child with Autistic Spectrum Disorder in an out-of-county placement could be as high as £75,000 per year. It currently costs around £20,000 per year for a Leicester child to receive the specialist education provided at Oaklands School.
It is hoped that work on the Oaklands School extension will begin this summer and be complete by spring 2022.