Special school for autism to open in Brent

Councillor Shama Tatler is planning and redevelopment lead at Brent Council

Councillor Shama Tatler is planning and redevelopment lead at Brent Council - Credit: Brent Council

A special school for 150 pupils with autism is coming to North West London.

Brent Council’s cabinet approved plans to build on the site known as London Road, with the school scheduled to open in September 2024. 

It will support children with autism spectrum disorder and forms part of the council’s plans to offer more special education places. 

Planning and redevelopment lead councillor Shama Tatler said: “This important infrastructure will give a lot of reassurance to families who need the provision and it will mean we can keep children and families in Brent which is a really great thing.”

A budget of £20million has been approved to help set up the school, but officers confirmed a full business case and more detailed costs will be put forward as the project progresses. 

The news comes as local authorities face funding pressures around special needs schools.

In a report presented to Brent Council’s schools forum in November, it noted it expected to pay £4.6m more than it was allocated by the government for special needs provision for 2021/22. 

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Council officers put the situation down to an increase in the number of children in Brent needing specialist education, as well as a rise in the number of “complex cases” in the borough. 

They added there has been a push to ensure children who rely on these services can access them locally, rather than being forced out of the borough or towards independent schools. 

Education lead councillor Thomas Stephens explained this was a common theme across England as councils work with increasingly strained budgets. 

He said: “A large and growing number of local authorities have a high needs deficit. Working with schools and families, we’ve set out a plan to recover our local deficit, manage demand and invest in more local [special education needs or disability] provision within Brent.”

He explained there were ambitions to invest £44m in special education in Brent, which will result in 427 school places. 

He said he was pleased to see officers had acted “so quickly” after setting these targets and that the new London Road school was a good way to get things off the ground.