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New school designed to meet the needs of young people aged 11-18 with a primary diagnosis of autism opens in Epping, Essex

The Tower School, part of Options Autism – a new provision designed to meet the needs of young people aged 11-18 with a primary diagnosis of autism – has opened in Epping, Essex. Situated in the heart of the community in what was formerly the town’s historic 1920’s Blue Star car showroom and next to its Grade II listed water tower, the building has been redesigned and refurbished to meet the specific needs of young people with autism. It has capacity to take up to 62 students referred by parents and local authorities including Essex, Havering, Redbridge, Waltham Forest and Hertfordshire.

Classes of no more than 7 young people will be staffed by specialist teachers who will deliver bespoke Key Stage 3, 4 and 5 lessons that balance academic learning alongside core life skills and employability tailored to the individual needs of each young person.  Alongside the core subjects it will offer a variety of options resulting in qualifications including Entry Level, Level 1 and Level 2, GCSE and BTEC.

Head Teacher, Kerry Linden, The Tower School, Epping

Support listed in each young person’s Education, Health and Care Plan will be provided by its multi-disciplinary clinical team which will include Speech and Language Therapists, Occupational Therapists and Educational Psychologists.

Head Teacher, Kerry Linden – who has over 20 years’ experience in education and 9 years as a Head Teacher in both alternative provision and special schools – said she was thrilled to be joining the Epping community and has been delighted by the support from residents and businesses. She and the team are looking forward to experiencing all the community has to offer and supporting the development of the young people’s social, emotional and independence skills when incorporating visits within the community into the school’s curriculum.

Commenting on the new school, Kerry said, “When our learners first join the school our teachers undertake academic assessments and discrete Autism Progression Framework Assessments to identify learning priorities and measure progress in areas which fall outside the national curriculum, so they can fully understand each young person’s needs. Equipped with this and the information gathered from parents, carers, professionals and previous education provisions, we are able to create bespoke learning and wellbeing support plans for every learner to meet their needs and to support them on their personal journey.”

“The team employs positive behaviour approaches based on therapeutic parenting aimed at helping young people to understand their own behaviours and find alternative ways of managing their own actions.

“We all know that not all learning takes place in the classroom,” she said, “and at The Tower School we will be taking full advantage of the enrichment opportunities presented by our local area such as work experience, community visits, forest school and the Duke of Edinburgh Award, all of which contribute to developing the self-esteem and confidence of our young people.

“Our aim is simple – to get our young people ready for the next stage of their life long journey be that in further education or employment and to support them with the skills to become as independent as they possibly can.

“We understand just how daunting it can be for a young person, their parents and the wider family, to start a new school. We offer a nurturing environment where we build a community based on communication with all our stakeholders – our young people, our parents and the wider professionals involved in their care.  The tallest towers need the strongest foundations, and young people attending The Tower School will experience a valuable combination of education, support and life skills which will provide them with those strong foundations to achieve great things.”

If you are interested in visiting The Tower School, 33 High Street, Epping, Essex, CM16 4BA, or finding out more about the support we provide, please contact: Kerry Linden, Headteacher Email: Kerry.Linden@ofgl.uk  Tel: 01992 926020.

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