In 2000 a small group of parents with autistic children, in and around the Crowborough area were put in touch with each other through a common interest of wanting to create a learning environment for their children. They were all following Applied Behavioural Analysis Methodology (ABA) which is a proven teaching method for children with autism. These parents very quickly realized that the home environment, although successful, was quite isolating for the children and that they needed to be in a school setting where they were able to access ABA teaching and be able to work on socialisation skills.
There was a serious lack of autism specific provision in the area, so the parents approached the local authority with their idea hoping to be able to work jointly and fill the gap. Unfortunately they were turned down by the authority, although disappointed the parents felt so strongly that the school needed to happen that they set about doing it themselves!
Four years of fundraising followed, doing anything from race nights, marathons, sky dives, sponsored swims and applying for grants. The parents were also extremely fortunate to find a local landowner with an old rundown farm, who was looking to redevelop it into an educational site. The old barn was custom built for us, thanks to our landlord and a grant from Defra, and in April 2004 the doors opened to our first pupils of which there were 3!
The school is now registered for 40 pupils, ranging from 4-19 years old and continues to flourish and provide exceptional educational provision for children and young people with autism. Of our founding parents, three families still have close links with the school, as either staff or governors.
The school is extremely proud of its historical roots and the provision it has been able to offer to pupils over the years. In 2021, we completed the conversion of our new Susan James wing, named after one of the founding families and our first chair of governors. The new wing was officially opened on 8th October by our local MP, with further words from Dr Francesca de Espinosa, a well renowned figure in the world of ABA, who has a long standing association with the school.
From determined roots, great things grow. The photos below, show the site before and after it opened.