At Tadcaster Grammar School we are trying to seize an opportunity to create a safe learning environment for children who may need a totally bespoke curriculum (or modified provision, if they are able to access the full mainstream curriculum) but also benefit from being with children from the community in their local school.
We are trying to renovate an old dilapidated building on the school site into an Autism Base in order to meet the growing needs of young people with ASC who attend TGS.
We are hoping to landscape the garden area, add a perimeter fence and create a covered area for outside learning (whatever the weather) where children can learn, play and communicate safely. We are also hoping to acquire a sunken trampoline to help self-regulation. We want to put in a kitchen so that children can complete vocational learning/AQA awards. We want the children to be able to bake and cook with future plans to hold ‘Open Café’ days to the public community.
A sensory room is also planned along with ‘fit for purpose’ classrooms etc. The upstairs space is wonderful but currently not accessible, due to fire regulations; hence an outdoor staircase is being looked at. Ultimately we want to be able to meet the requirements of children with more complex needs so that they can attend a local school.
We do not have a cost for the project as we hope to rely heavily on volunteers – including tradespeople who may volunteer their time and companies who may donate. We also have a few KS4 students with Autism Spectrum Condition who follow bespoke timetables and a vocational pathway who, as part of their vocational qualification/accreditation have been keen to complete work on this project (upcycling furniture, helping at a recent cake sale and painting and decorating). Their sense of pride and ownership on the project is incredible and the sense that they are part of something ‘big’ where they can make their mark and leave their legacy too.
We have calendared a Car Boot Sale open to all at TGS on 9th June to again raise funds. We will have a couple of stalls selling donated items and upcycled furniture rescued from the derelict building. We hope some of our students will be selling homemade (school made!) cakes and tea and coffee. We will be holding a competition to ‘Name the Base’ and are arranging more fundraising events in the summer. A parent is running a marathon to help raise money.
The support so far has been incredible with people from our local community and many staff members volunteering to help our initial ‘clean up’ day last Monday.
The hope is that we would be able to open in September 2018 in readiness for the new school year. We do have ‘big plans’ that can only be realised with the support of local businesses, tradespeople, volunteers and fundraising.