PLANS are underway to create a new independent secondary school in Bexley for children with autism.

A group of borough parents, teachers and other professionals say they hope to open the school, which will cater for up to 30 children, in September 2012.

Annabel Leaver, 31, co-ordinator of the project, says the group is convinced it can get the project off the ground, using grants and charitable donations.

Miss Leaver, a teacher whose son Charlie, 10 is autistic, said the original plan had been to apply for Free School status for the project.

But she said the “harsh realisation” has now dawned that it would probably not get approval or funding as a project catering for only 30 children.

Now the group has decided to pursue charitable status, and is already approaching charitable and educational trusts as well as the National Lottery and Bexley Council, for cash.

The group estimates it would need at least £120,000 to get the project off the ground.

It is exploring the possibility of buying and adapting its own school premises, or renting space at an existing school with rooms to spare, and considering employing a professional fundraiser.

Miss Leaver, of Princes Close, Albany Park, said the school would launch with around six pupils and gradually build to its capacity.

One of the major concerns of the group is the number of autistic children who get bullied in mainstream schools.

Miss Leaver said her son had suffered from bullying, and she now teaches him at home with his younger sister Tia.

The nine trustees of the project, currently called the Youth Sound Learning Centre, can call on a range of expertise from financial and construction skills to working with mental health charities, as well as several teachers.

The group would like to hear from other parents with autistic children, as well as anyone who can offer help, either financial or expertise.

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