A NEW school has opened which will provide residential care for youngsters with severe autism.

Chatten Free School has been named after Bradley Chatten who has severe autism.

He attended the Elmstead Market School which cares for students with moderate learning difficulties.

Gazette: Bradley ChattenBradley Chatten

But his parents’ search for an appropriate post-16 school in Essex proved impossible meaning Bradley had to move 125 miles away for school when he was 16 because there was nowhere suitable for him in Essex.

It meant he had to be separated from his devoted parents, Sue and Nick Chatten.

This sparked calls for a new school for severely autistic children in the county and after months of delays caused by Covid, the new school has opened.

Head Adam Dean had taught Bradley for many years.

He also had started campaigning for the new school with his boss at the time, Gary Smith, the head teacher of Market Field School.

The new special education needs school in Witham will offer support for children with learning difficulties and for their parents.

It was initially hoped it would open in September 2018 but delays had continually pushed the project back.

The school, which cares for children aged from four to 19, was given the green light by the county council and the Department for Education last year.

Mr Dean said: “To finally be open and full of our amazing children and staff feels beyond incredible.

“Our staff team are all amazing – professional, enthusiastic and most importantly eager to learn and make a difference in the lives of our pupils.

“I have seen so much progress in the children in such a short space of time and I am so excited to see where they all will be in a few months and a few years time.

“Our purpose as a school is to open up the world for our pupils, to give them skills that help them access that world in a meaningful way and it feels incredible to finally be able to do that.

“Since the inception of the school five years ago, being head here has been a long-held dream for me.

“Now we are open I can honestly say that I have the best job in the world.

“I am overwhelmed with pride for our amazing team, incredible pupils and beautiful school building.”

Bradley’s dad Nick had visited the school when it opened and said he had a lump in his throat on the day.

He is the first chairman of governors at the new facility.

He said: “Lump in throat day today visiting the Chatten Free School in Witham which opened this week.

“Proud to be the first chair of governors of this brilliant facility, met some great students and fantastic new staff team.”

The new school was part of a £85 million investment in special school places in Essex It is based off Rickstones Road and can take up to 75 pupils with complex autism.

Its split into 15 classes and employs more than 100 members of staff so each pupil can be taught on a one-to-one basis.