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17.12.15. The National Autistic Society is concerned about the impact the sudden closure of St Christopher’s School in Bristol will have on its students.

St Christopher’s School is an independent special school and children’s home that caters for children with complex needs. The school’s trustees recently announced that it will close in March 2016 because of financial difficulties, which they say make it ‘economically unviable’.
Parents are worried about what this will mean for their children and have launched a campaign to draw attention to the closure and its impact. They’ve told us that the closure may mean their children have to travel long distances to get the right support and that, given the short notice, they may spend time out of education.
The law is clear – councils which have placed children at this school must act quickly to make sure they find suitable alternative provision which meets the students’ needs.
Autistic people rely on routine to navigate what can be a confusing world, so big changes like moving school can be extremely stressful. It’s important that the local authorities involved work closely with parents and potential schools to resolve the situation as fast as possible and make sure the children are prepared carefully for the transition.
We’ve contacted the school to see if we can help and would encourage any parents looking for information or advice to contact our Education Rights Service on 0808 800 4102.
The closure puts a spotlight on the national challenges parents face in getting appropriate provision for children with complex needs. In the recent Spending Review, the Government announced investment in additional school places for children with special educational needs. We will be looking at the proposals carefully to hep make sure that the investment means that children across the autism spectrum can get the right help and flourish.
The vast majority of autistic children are in mainstream schools, but those with more complex needs may require specialist support to achieve their potential. When we talk to parents about the types of schools they want for their child, they tell us they would like a range of provision, but that the most important thing is that the staff supporting their child have knowledge and skills to teach their child effectively. 
For more information about the planned closure of St Christopher’s School and the parents’ campaign, see this story in the Bath Chronicle.
For impartial and confidential information, advice and support on education rights and entitlements, please contact our Education Rights Service.