A SCHOOL for autistic children has been described as “a shining example” of a successful partnership during a ceremony to mark its official opening.

The North East Autism Society (NEAS), working with Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council, has breathed new life into Kiora Hall, creating a school that gives autistic and neurodivergent young people a fulfilling education.

The school, in the Roseworth area of Stockton, first opened its doors to pupils two years ago, and has now achieved its full capacity of 35 pupils.

The opening ceremony was performed by the Lord Lieutenant of County Durham, Sue Snowdon, who said:

It’s impossible to not be impressed by what has been achieved at Kiora Hall.

The building has a long and colourful history, including serving as a prisoner of war camp, but it had become derelict before NEAS joined forces with the local authority to return it to community use.

Mrs Snowdon added: “The success of the North East Autism Society’s approach is to recognise, nurture and develop the unique skills, strengths, and aspirations that each autistic person has, and enable them to fulfil their potential in life.

What has happened at Kiora Hall is a shining example of a charity and a local authority working together for the good of the whole community, and you all have so much to be proud of.

Kiora Hall is the second school NEAS has provided on Teesside in the past few years, following the opening of the Mackenzie Thorpe Centre, at South Bank, Middlesbrough.

The charity’s chief executive, John Phillipson, paid tribute to the “fantastic support” of Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council and its officers in helping the vision behind Kiora Hall to become a reality.

In developing Kiora Hall, NEAS has also worked closely with other charities, Roseworth Big Local, and Eastern Ravens, to make a wider impact on the community.

“It has been an amazing project, and the community has given us a wonderfully warm welcome, so today is a celebration of all the hard work that has gone into making it happen,” added Mr Phillipson.

Guests at the opening ceremony included the Mayor and Mayoress of Stockton, Councillor John Gardner, and his wife, Paula.

Councillor Gardner said:

I am absolutely amazed by the transformation that has taken place, and hugely impressed by the benefits the development has brought to the local area.

The development is set to continue, with work due to start soon on providing new play equipment, a sensory walk, and a horticultural area.