Excitement filled the air last Friday when pupils, residents, staff, parents and carers at Options Barton in North Lincolnshire –
a specialist residential and education provision for children with autism and associated complex needs – celebrated the opening of a brand new wing with an official ceremony followed by an afternoon of fun activities. The new building enables Options Barton to extend its student intake to offer specialist support and expertise to more young people with autism – crucial given the rise in placement referrals from local authorities.
The event kicked off with the official cutting of the ribbon at the entrance to the new building, performed by Graham Baker, Chief Executive Officer of Outcomes First Group, which runs a portfolio of specialist care and education services including Options Barton. Options Barton has seen a significant increase in demand for placements, with local authorities referring young people with autism from further and further afield. The provision offers a specialist person-centred approach which plays to students’ strengths and helps to bring out their best, attracting referrals from local authorities in East Riding, Hull, Lincolnshire, North Lincolnshire, North East Lincolnshire as well as London Boroughs, Essex and Leeds. Several new starters are already confirmed, and a number of local authority referrals are being processed.
After the ceremony, celebrations were in full swing as the children enjoyed a fun-packed afternoon jumping on the bouncy castle and having their faces painted. In keeping with Barton upon Humber’s Northern traditions, a food buffet served delicious fish and chips wrapped in newspaper, whilst candyfloss and slushy drinks machines added to the buzz of the occasion!
Located on site next to the adventure playground, the new building has two classrooms and two multi-use rooms, catering for an extra ten students aged 8-19 of mixed ability. One of the multi-use rooms will provide space for families to use when visiting their children at Options Barton, which offers full and part-time education placements, outreach and a variety of residential placements. The space will also be used for leisure activities – music, playing games and video games. The other multi-use room will provide opportunities for sensory play – vitally therapeutic for many children with autism – offering art and other messy play activities such as making play dough and drawing in sand trays.
Graham Norris, Head of Autism Residential Schools, is thrilled with the new development and said: “Our expansion reflects the growing number of referrals we are receiving and we are delighted that it will enable us to help more young people with autism and associated complex needs to achieve their potential.”