Queensmill Staff and Pupils Celebrate Official Opening of New School

National Autistic Society president Jane Asher guest of honour at ceremony

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Official Opening of Queensmill School in Shepherd's Bush

Jane Asher (centre) opens the new school building with headteacher Jude Ragan (left) and pupil William (right)

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Queensmill, an internationally-renowned special school for pupils with autism, has celebrated the official opening of its new building with its architects and actress Jane Asher as guests of honour.

The state-of-the-art building in Askham Road in Shepherd's Bush, was specially designed and built in an £11 million council-funded project to meet the needs of Queensmill’s children enabling the school to relocate from a temporary site in Fulham.

It has spacious classrooms, a garden, playground, wet playroom and a modern interactive sensory room. It also allows some students to attend an extended school day and offers overnight respite to families.

One of the most progressive elements of the building is that it is calm, quiet and easy to navigate for autistic pupils.

The school, which caters for pupils aged two to 19, was officially opened by Jane Asher, the president of the National Autistic Society, on May 12. The event was attended by staff, parents, governors, architects, professionals from the autism world as well as Sue Macmillan, Hammersmith & Fulham Council’s cabinet member for children and education. Guests were catered for by Queensmill’s own kitchen staff and students.

Cllr Macmillan said: " Queensmill is an extraordinary school. We are privileged and proud to have it in Hammersmith & Fulham. 

" This event is a fitting celebration of the fact that staff and pupils now have the building they deserve, one worthy of their marvellous work.

" The school is a fitting legacy for headteacher Jude Ragan who is retiring this year after leading the school for a decade. She has spent her career improving the lives of people with autism and her selfless work has changed the lives of countless families. We will be very sorry to see her go, but wish her all the best for the future, and I personally would like to thank her for all she has done for the borough’s children."       

Ofsted inspectors have heaped praise on all aspects of the school in November when they awarded Queensmill an outstanding rating for the third time in a row, saying: " One rarely goes into a school as good as this one".

Headteacher Jude Ragan gave special thanks to the architect Nick Rogers and to Andy Rennison, director of 3BM, an education, building and architectural specialist.

She described the building as "a unique, beautiful and functional space that is ideal for our children, designed on the principles of a calming low-arousal environment".

And she added:  " My heart leaps every time this wonderful white box hoves into view as I drive up the Uxbridge Road each morning."

Queensmill School in Shepherd's Bush

Today, the school has 152 children drawing from Hammersmith and Fulham as well as neighbouring boroughs. Jude was awarded the Order of the British Empire by The Queen in 2011 for her services to for her work in special education.

This year, H&F Council is funding a pilot school project for 19-25 year olds to expand the education and support on offer to help meet the needs of young people with autism.

Additionally, Queensmill runs two units in local mainstream schools: a 30-place unit at Fulham Primary School, now in its third year, and a new unit based in Fulham College Boys with eight places which opened last year.

Class numbers are small, generally no more than eight children in a class with one teacher and at least three support staff. Therapists support all classes.


May 25, 2015