School centre to aid pupils with autism

Paul Jeeves A SPECIALIST resource centre for York school pupils who suffer from Asperger's Syndrome and autism will officially open tomorrow.

Five students started at the Resource Centre at Fulford School in September last year and it will reach its maximum capacity of 10 pupils within the next two to three years.

Three members of staff are currently supporting the students within the mainstream school as part of York Council's inclusion policy.

When the students started at the school, they were based in a temporary classroom, but work has been carried out to build a new and enhanced resource centre.

The centre was developed at the same time as the school's new music rooms and extension, which were completed in February.

The council's executive member for children's services, Carol Runciman (Lib Dem, Huntington and New Earswick), said: "The enhanced resource centre will provide excellent facilities for pupils with Asperger's and autism.

"I am very grateful to the governors and teachers for being so inclusive, and welcoming the establishment of this facility.

"York already has well-established specialist services for primary school children, but this first facility within a secondary school is a great addition for older students."

The resource unit is located behind the school's youth centre and was designed by the architects Atkins.

Features have been tailored to ensure they are as user-friendly for students with autism as possible, such as a light, airy and calming environment with specially designed windows.

Tomorrow's opening ceremony will be conducted by Glynis Bevan, York Council's inclusion support teacher for autism, and school head Steve Smith.

York Council's assistant director of access and inclusion for children's services, Murray Rose, said: "The new resource centre at Fulford School is a thoughtfully-designed and extremely valuable facility for pupils with very specific needs.

"It is a very welcome addition to the range of facilities for pupils at Fulford School and across York as a whole."