School nominated for a national autism award

The school has been shortlisted for the 2015 Inspirational Education Provision - Secondary award at the Autism Professionals Awards 2015.

Our fudge-making social enterprise has been nominated for a national award in recognition of the way it has empowered local students and people with autism and helped to develop their life skills and independence.

Autisan Creative Enterprises, based at the school, is one of three schemes selected as a finalist in the Award for Inspirational Education Provision - Secondary category in Autism Professionals Awards 2015.

The annual ceremony, which is run by The NAS and first took place in 2013, recognises and rewards services and professionals that lead the way in innovative autism practice and make a real difference to the lives of people with the condition in the UK.

The fudge is made by the ex-pupil Connor Matthews, who is now employed as a part-time Enterprise Ambassador. It is sold by pupils in the school shop and by adults with autism supported by NAS services, giving both groups vital experience of handling money and interacting with others. The enterprise has been hugely successful and evolved to include selling pottery and other craft items in local shops and running a café.

There are 13 people regularly involved in the production and sale of the fudge alone, and they have sold around £5,000 worth of the product, the profits of which have been fed back into creating more enterprise opportunities for people with autism.

Jacqui Ashton-Smith, Executive Director of Education at The National Autistic Society, said: "Everyone involved in Autisan Creative Enterprises is delighted to be nominated and to have their achievements recognised nationally.

"It’s a remarkable project which has given so much, not just to current and former students of Robert Ogden School, but also to adults with autism in NAS services, increasing their confidence and improving their communication, social and money management skills. This will serve them well as they prepare to go on to the next stage of their lives, helping them reach their full potential, whatever they decide to do.

"A by-product of the whole scheme is the way that it is transforming awareness and stereotypes of autism by showing the public just how much people with the condition can achieve, when they have the right support." 

Carol Povey, Director of The National Autistic Society’s Centre for Autism, said: "The autism community gets together once a year to recognise individuals and services, like Autisan Creative Enterprises, doing ground-breaking work in the field of autism and improving the lives of people with the disability.

"The calibre, variety and sheer number of nominations we received is astounding and Autisan Creative Enterprises has done remarkably well to stand out. We hope their achievement will inspire others to go that extra mile to improve the lives of people with autism across the UK." 

Autisan Creative Enterprises is joined by two other nominees in the Award for Inspirational Education Provision - Secondary category: Chichester College's Social Provisions and St Luke's School's project, Learning Outside the Classroom

The winner will be revealed at the NAS Professional Conference on 3 March 2015 at the Harrogate International Centre, Harrogate.