Plan for school in Brighton for children with autism, anxiety and mental health issues

A new specialist school for autistic children and young people with anxiety and other mental health issues is set to open in Brighton.

Brighton and Hove City Council’s Children, Young People and Skills Committee are being asked to approve the plans.

The new school would operate as a satellite of Portslade’s Hill Park School at the former Cedar Centre in Lynchet Close, Hollingdean.

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It would teach pupils with autism, anxiety and mental health issues but not learning disabilities.

The new school would operate as a satellite of Portslade’s Hill Park School at the former Cedar Centre in Lynchet Close, Hollingdean, pictured

The council has worked with parents and careers to develop special school services in the city and found the gap in provision for autistic children and young people.

An eight-week consultation carried out in April and May this year had 86 responses, with 91 per cent stating there was a need for a school supporting this group of young people.

More than three-quarters of respondents either strongly agreed or tended to agree to open a new department at the Cedar Centre for children and young people with autism, anxiety and mental health needs.

A report going before the committee on Monday, June 13, said: “A significant number of these students are not currently accessing education or are placed in independent non-maintained special schools.

“By developing this provision, we will be increasing the attendance at school of vulnerable learners and be supporting them to attend school locally and within their own community.”

The Hollingdean site would have 30 pupils of secondary age from 11 to 16, counted as Hill Park pupils.

Hill Park in Foredown Road currently has 197 pupils with complex needs aged three to 19 across two sites, one for primary age and the other for secondary aged pupils.

Some of its secondary pupils with autistic spectrum conditions (ASC) have moderate learning disabilities and would enjoy a more mainstream education but find secondary schools too large and busy.

Due to the increasing demand for specialist education, Hill Park is struggling for space and is too small to accommodate all the pupils who need specialist provision.

Demand for places at Hill Park has increased by 25 per cent in the last five years and continues to grow.

The report said: “The Cedar Centre building is mainly on one level, giving good access. A scheme has been designed for the Cedar Centre building, which includes complete refurbishment and re-modelling of the building, which will enable the building to meet the needs of pupils with ASC as their primary need.

“If this proposal goes forward, the building works involve internal refurbishment together with a small extension at the front of the building creating a small first-floor level.”

Councillors approved a planning application to extend the Cedar Centre site in November 2021.

The Children, Young People and Skills Committee meets at Hove Town Hall from 4pm on Monday, June 13. The meeting is scheduled for webcast on the council website.

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