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Autism Support Centre at Milwards Primary School


‚ÄčThe Harlow Inspirational Learning Trust (HILT) has shared their intention to close the autism support centre at Milwards Primary School following discussions between the Trust and Essex County Council over the course of the Spring and Summer terms 2020.  HILT will need to seek permission from the Department for Education to cease to maintain the provision and we are working closely with them to support this process. ECC would welcome any school or trust to submit an expression of interest if they would wish to be considered as the future host for a new autism support centre. 

Essex's autism support centres were established to enable a broader range of provision and deliver greater choices for parents and carers of pupils with Autism Spectrum Conditions. Essex have commissioned eight Autism Support Centres (one primary and one secondary in each quadrant of Essex) that will be supported by a Hub Lead Special School for Autistic pupils (Oak View for West Essex).

The purpose of the autism support centre is to ensure that the pupils attending the centre make progress as detailed within their Education Health and Care Plan, enabling those students to achieve and thrive within an educational setting, fully supporting their needs and working in partnerships with families.

  • Ensuring that Autistic children are supported to prepare for adulthood and make progress within an inclusive setting in their local community;
  • Ensure that Autistic children are sensitively supported to successfully transition between phases of mainstream education;
  • Supporting Autistic children to develop skills in relation to emotional regulation and social communication;
  • Cooperatively working as part of the continuum of provision that enables Autistic children to be successfully educated within a mainstream school setting as close to their local community as possible and to support them to thrive;
  • Ensuring that there is an overall  improvement  in parental confidence in the continuum of provision available for Autistic children within Essex and thus increase parental choice;
  • Empowering parents to have greater involvement in their children's education and to work in partnership with parents and carers to support their child's development and progress within the home, school and the wider community;
  • Ensuring the appropriate amount of inclusion in mainstream school life to ensure positive outcomes and the best life chances for the children and young people they work with.
  • Developing the understanding of Autism and compassion amongst peers and staff within the wider school.

The intention would be to run the selection for a new school alongside the formal process that HILT will need to undertake prior to any closure; this will ensure that valuable time is not lost and that we can open the new provision when Milwards closes.  Essex will be seeking a school/trust which is able to meet the following criteria:

  • Be an established Harlow primary school; if no Harlow school or trust expresses an interest we shall also consider any expression of interest from schools in Epping Forest and Uttlesford;
  • An Ofsted rating of good or outstanding or be newly established academies with evidence of an ability to deliver good or outstanding outcomes;
  • An existing physical space to locate the provision or have an area which can be developed;
  • A fully inclusive model which enables referred pupils to participate and be educated alongside the main body of the school as well as benefit from more specialist provision;
  • The ability to undertake accurate baseline assessments on entry to the provision which will inform monitoring of progress;
  • A model which will challenge traditional ways of working and push the boundaries with regards to intervention and support for Autistic pupils;
  • Work with local primary schools to build capacity of their staff for support and inclusion of Autistic pupils;
  • To develop an evidence and research-based source of expertise in relation to autism in terms of effective teaching approaches and management;
  • To provide, in collaboration with a range of voluntary and statutory agencies, a range of effective support strategies for families of Autistic pupils including high-class, evidence based therapeutic inputs;
  • To provide outreach support for mainstream schools, within the quadrant/district in order to build the capacity of mainstream staff to support Autistic pupils;
  • To provide placements for a specified number of pupils with an Education Health Care Plan;
  • A commitment to work collaboratively with the host school for the secondary provision (Passmores Academy).      

At the start of the Autumn term there are two pupils currently in the provision at Milwards; both of these pupils have been offered the opportunity to remain at the support with appropriate support beyond the closure of the provision. 

The selection process for the new provider will involve parents of children currently or previously at the Milwards provision, PACT for Autism, the Essex Family Forum, Claire Moore (the hub lead for the provision at Oak View School) and members of the SEND teams at ECC.

If you are interested in submitting an expression of interest and would like further information please contact The deadline for the submission of the expression of interest is Friday 16th October.