A new network of specialist autism support centres are now being opened in schools across Essex.
Essex County Council is opening eight of the centres across the county, with one primary school and one secondary school hosting them in each of Essex's four quadrants.
While many pupils with autism already attend and succeed in their local mainstream schools, there are others with more complex needs, including high levels of anxiety, who require further specialist support.
The new centres aim to enable those young people to access mainstream schooling and spend most of their time in classes alongside their peers.
Admissions will be managed by the council's statutory assessment service, working in partnership with the schools. All of the pupils admitted will have an education, health and care plan.
The centres are located at:
- Primary (mid Essex) - Kelvedon St Mary's Primary Academy
- Secondary (mid Essex) - Honywood Community Science School, Coggeshall
- Primary (north Essex) - Hamford Primary Academy, Walton-on-the-Naze
- Secondary (north Essex) - Tendring Technology College
- Primary (south Essex) - Merrylands Primary School, Basildon
- Secondary (south Essex) - The Bromfords School and Sixth Form College, Wickford
- Primary (west Essex) - Millwards Primary School, Harlow
- Secondary (west Essex) - Passmores Academy, Harlow
In addition to the new mainstream support centres, four special school-led ASD hubs have been set up at Thriftwood School (Chelmsford), Market Field School (Elmstead Market), Oak View School (Loughton) and Castledon School (Wickford).
These schools, along with the Essex Specialist Teacher Service and the Educational Psychology Service, will work to develop autism expertise across all schools in Essex.
The hubs will provide outreach services and ensure pupils with autism who attend mainstream schools, particularly at secondary schools, receive enhanced support.
For pupils with more severe autism, additional places are being created as part of the council's record £85 million investment in special schools in Essex.