Petition to save Chigwell school for children with autism

The Anderson School in Chigwell. Picture: Steve Hickey/NAS

The Anderson School in Chigwell. Picture: Steve Hickey/NAS - Credit: Archant

Some parents and students of a school for autistic children which is closing down in July have launched a petition to give it one last chance.

The National Autistic Society (NAS)decided to close the Anderson School in Chigwell, where parents said staff ignored concerns about students’ education and safety.

Some parents have a different view and said they are devastated by the decision as they feel it was a safe space where their children thrived.

A student put together a petition to keep the school open which has been signed by more than 2,000 people so far.

A statement issued by a group of parents said: “The closure has devastated the families of these children.

“For many of these children Anderson was the first school where they felt safe, free from bullying and judgement, and where they began to thrive academically.

“Most importantly, it was the first place they had made friends.”

Councils across east London and Essex pay the NAS £42,000 a year for every student, rising to around £75,000 with “extras” such as one-to-one teaching and therapy.

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In November 2019 Ofsted conducted an emergency inspection and found The Anderson School was failing to meet crucial standards.

Year 11 student Morgan Bowyer said the school is a lifeline for him.

He said: “Before I came to Anderson school, I used to have no friends and used to get bullied and also, I use to hate school but now when I came to Anderson school it opened up a new door in life.

“The school has helped me to see that having autism is not a bad thing to have and that there are positive things about having autism.”

Another Year 11 student Leah Lynch said the school helped her in a way no other school has.

She said: “I know there were some issues throughout the school that can and have been corrected through the hard work of the staff ensuring that us pupils are the school priority.

“Although there the school did have these issues, that is no reason for the school to be shut and for us vulnerable students to not have a place to learn and feel safe.”