Bristol

Primary and secondary autism school to open in Bristol

Deborah Guatieri, with her 10-year-old son Leon Image copyright Venturers' Academy
Image caption Deborah Guatieri welcomed the new school and said knowing her son Leon can continue his education until he is 16 has taken "all the anxiety away"

A new purpose-built school for children aged four to 16 with autism is set to open in Bristol in September.

The Department for Education has given the go-ahead for the new Venturers' Academy in Gatehouse Avenue, south Bristol.

Initially there will be 49 students but the school will grow over two years to take up to 84 children.

The school will be able to offer pupils a personalised curriculum and will have calming and sensory rooms.

Image copyright Google
Image caption Children at the new academy will be able to join in with cultural and sports activities at the mainstream Merchants' Academy

Children at the new academy will be able to join in with cultural and sports activities at the mainstream Merchants' Academy.

The new school will replace the 28-place Autistic Resource Base (ARB) at the Merchants' Academy primary site.

'Chronic shortage'

Anne Burrell, principal of Merchants' Academy, said it will address the "shortfall in places in Bristol and the surrounding area" for children on the autism spectrum.

"Our ARB has a waiting list and families have campaigned for a long time for high quality provision without the need for a change of school at the age of 11," said Ms Burrell.

Deborah Guatieri, from Hengrove, whose 10-year-old son Leon is due to move on from the ARB to the new school, said she is "delighted that he can now stay on" at Venturers' Academy.

She added: "A couple of years ago I was very worried about where Leon would go next.

"He has done so well at the Merchants' Academy ARB. It is such a relief for us that he can carry on. It takes all the anxiety away."

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