Antonia Evans

Antonia Evans has been appointed as Head Teacher of our new Vanguard School, which is set to open in Lambeth in January 2020.

Antonia will join the autism specialist free school from Westminster University Technical College (UTC), where she is currently Principal and had previously led their special educational needs provision.

Our Vanguard School is for children and young people from Lambeth and surrounding boroughs who are on the autism spectrum - and looking to go on to further education and employment. The school will eventually cater for up to 78 students, aged between 11 and 19. It will grow gradually, with a phased intake of students, starting with years 7 and 8.

Its development reflects the local authority’s recognition of the need for more specialist education provision in the borough. The school is designed for autistic children who have the potential to be on the same educational level as non-autistic children their own age, but who can’t thrive in a mainstream school and need specialist support. Our Vanguard School will provide high quality specialist support for its students, many of whom may currently not be getting an effective or suitable education. The school’s aim is to help prepare young people to make a successful transition into adulthood, further education or training and employment.

Antonia is a passionate advocate of opportunities for all children and young people. After graduating from Keble College, Oxford, in 2010, Antonia became an English teacher through Teach First. She soon became Head of English and Media and then, after completing an MA in Leadership at the Institute of Education, joined Westminster UTC as Assistant Principal.

At the college, Antonia has been responsible for pastoral and academic leadership and developing the learning of students with special educational needs and disabilities. Antonia is currently Principal of the college, where she has developed its focus on educational opportunities for all - in particular through vocational qualifications and work experience with its partner employers.

Antonia’s experience and skills put her in an ideal position to lead our new school, which has been purpose-built to a design by Pozzoni Architecture.

Every autistic child is different and many can become overwhelmed in school environments by the bright lights, loud noises or unpredictable behaviour of other children. Without the right environment, support and understanding, it can be almost impossible to learn and can even lead to children missing out on an education altogether.

Some children on the autism spectrum are able to excel in mainstream schools with limited help, while others require more specialist support, like that offered by our new Vanguard School.

Antonia said:"I'm incredibly excited to be joining the National Autistic Society as Head Teacher of the charity’s Vanguard School.

The school is a wonderful opportunity to give local children on the autism spectrum the best possible chance in life - helping them to be as independent as possible and hopefully go on to further education or employment.

“I know how much hard work has gone into making this school a reality, not just from the National Autistic Society but from local parents and the council. I’m very much looking forward to working together and making sure we realise our high ambitions. And I can’t wait to welcome our first students early next year.”

Fleur Bothwick, Chair of the National Autistic Society’s Vanguard Schools Local Governing Body and NAS Academies Trust Board Trustee, said: “Antonia’s appointment is another important step ahead of the school opening in January 2020. It’s been a long journey but our vision is now turning to reality.

“Bringing the expertise of the National Autistic Society in to our borough, under Antonia’s leadership, the school will transform the lives of many children and young people on the autism spectrum – and of their families. It will also be a huge benefit to the local community, and to other schools, services and employers.

“Thanks to everyone who has helped get us to this point – other parents in the borough, the National Autistic Society, the Department for Education and the council.”

Kirstie Fulthorpe, Managing Director for the NAS Academies Trust, said: "We’re delighted that Antonia will be the Head Teacher of the National Autistic Society’s Vanguard School.”

“With Antonia’s passion, drive and experience of the local area, she is the perfect person to realise the high ambitions we have for our pupils. We are looking forward to working together to give local autistic children the best possible chances in life."

Visit the Vanguard School website here to find out more and to sign up for updates on the school's development.

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