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£2 million refurb for Carlisle special school

£2 million refurb for Carlisle special school (Jupiter)

The James Rennie School in Carlisle is set to undergo a £2 million makeover that will see the addition of a new residential unit for children with severe autism.

Autism spectrum disorder is a condition that affects social interaction, communication, interests and behaviour. Symptoms vary between individuals, but typically include problems understanding other people's emotions, repetitive physical movements, and delayed language development.

According to the NHS, around one in every 100 people in the UK has autism.

Cumbria County Council's cabinet has shown support for the residential unit to be built at the school, located on California Road in Kingstown, Carlisle.

The new facility forms part of plans to rebuild and expand special schools in Cumbria, the News and Star reports.

Senior councillors were informed that the on-site home would help cut the average spend per pupil from £145,000 per year to £68,000, all the while providing specialist care to each child.

The facility will feature ten bedrooms and staff quarters, which will enable pupils to have round-the-clock schooling and care from Monday morning through to Friday tea-time.

If the fund is increased further, the school will receive two additional classrooms and ancillary facilities.

Councillor Anne Burns, cabinet member for children’s social care, said: "There has been a growth in the number of children with conditions on the autistic spectrum and in the incidence of severe, profound and multiple learning disabilities.

"Improving provision for these children within the county will give them better care closer to home and will be a more cost-effective system in the long term."

Improved care for children with learning disabilities will be extremely beneficial to their social and academic growth. Help from additional supportive tools, such as assistive technologies, will also contribute to enhancing the numeracy and literacy skills of each child.

Should the council approve the scheme and secure all necessary consents, the new unit is expected to open in 2017.