Building work on new Norwich school set to start soon

Barry Payne - head of Parkside School, Norwich

Barry Payne - head of Parkside School, Norwich - Credit: Archant © 2009

Building work on a new school for children who are on the autism spectrum is expected to start soon, it has been revealed.

A free school application for The Wherry School in Norwich won government approval last year, and a consultation with prospective pupils, their parents and carers was launched this week.

The school is earmarked for a site off Hall Road, near to the Hewett Academy and the Goals Soccer Centre, and its backers hope the building will be ready for a first intake of children in September 2017.

It is being set up by a charitable trust, which includes Barry Payne, head of Parkside Complex Needs School, who said that in 2014 more than 50 pupils with autism were excluded from Norfolk schools.

Mr Payne, who is also chairman of The Wherry School Trust, has been appointed as interim principal of The Wherry School and said that plans were in place to recruit a permanent principal prior to opening.

'There is compelling evidence of need for a school for learners with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in Norfolk,' he said. 'Although there is good provision for ASD leaners with significant learning difficulties through the 10 complex needs schools, those with a higher cognitive profile do not have such quality provision.'

The school would cater for pupils aged four to 19-years-old, with space for 48 pupils in school year groups one to eight initially, and to grow to 100 pupils by 2020 across all year groups.

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The six-week consultation exercise closes at midday on April 4.

People can ask questions at drop-in events on Tuesday, March 8 from 10am to 1pm at The Base, Hall Road, Norwich and on Thursday, March 17 from 6pm to 8pm at Parkside School, College Road, Norwich.

For further details, see www.thewherryschool.co.uk/consultation/

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