Learning Disability Today
Supporting professionals working in learning disability and autism services

New further education college ‘ambitious’ about developing autism education

autismA further education college focusing on learners with complex autism aged 16-25 has opened its doors for the first time.

Ambitious College is the first independent specialist college in London to be located on the same site as a general further education college – Barnet and Southgate College – and will cater for those who are often ruled out of education after leaving school.

Recent research by charity Ambitious about Autism, which runs the college, showed that fewer than 1 in 4 young people with autism access education beyond school while more than 85% of adults with autism are not in paid full-time employment.

Vivienne Berkeley, principal of Ambitious College, said: “Ambitious College is a ground-breaking service in many ways. The reality for many young people with complex autism when leaving school is they are out of education, employment and training, or have to leave their home and family to access provision. With the launch of Ambitious College they will be able to access specialist education nearer home and alongside their peers, which is a huge step forward.”

Ambitious College will seek to provide learners with an individualised curriculum focused on the development of work and life skills. By co-locating with Barnet and Southgate College at its Grahame Park campus, learners have access to a wider range of learning and social opportunities alongside their peers in mainstream further education.

The college, which will take referrals from across north London, also aims to enable learners to gain the knowledge, skills and confidence they need to live, work and contribute as part of their community.

Jolanta Lasota, chief executive of Ambitious about Autism, added: “Ambitious College will provide a vital service for the growing number of young people with complex autism who need to access further education and training opportunities.

“The recent Children’s and Families Act means that some young people with autism will now be able to access support in further education and training until they are 25 but there is very limited community-based provision available for those with complex needs. Ambitious College will help to address this growing need and provide the education and training that these young people need to transition successfully to an adult life as part of their communities.”

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