School celebrates its 20 years
PUPILS and teachers past and present celebrated the 20th anniversary of a school for autistic children in Withywood.
Fifty people took part in the day of celebrations at the Gay Elms Autism Resource Base in Withywood Road on Friday.
The base was opened in June 1992 after parents had campaigned for a centre to be provided for autistic children who are unable to thrive in mainstream or special schools.
Ahead of the anniversary, the 28 children at the centre researched the history of the school and traced and interviewed former pupils and members of staff.
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The pupils, aged between five and 11 years and from across Bristol, also looked at how education has changed since the centre had opened.
Former and current students, staff members and parents attended a celebratory assembly which included a history presentation as well as dancing and singing.
A plaque marking the centre's 20- year history was officially unveiled by the Lord Mayor of Bristol, Peter Main. The assembly was followed by a party in the afternoon.
Carole Fisher, the head of the centre, said the base would be changing its name to Merchants Academy Autism Resource Base from September but would remain on its existing site.
Of the centre, she said: "All the pupils here must be diagnosed with autism and have a proven need for this special environment.
"We have just seven teachers in a class.
"The teachers are trained in autism and can present the curriculum in an autism-friendly way."
Of the celebrations on Friday, she added: "It was a really lovely afternoon."