Converting the former Grasvenor Avenue Infant School to take pupils with special education needs will help meet the lack of places within the Borough of Barnet for children with learning difficulties.


Contractors will spend late July and August carrying out alterations and improvements ready for the infant school – which closed in July –to become an annexe for the Northway Special School in Mill Hill.

When the new term starts in early September, Grasvenor Avenue will provide 44 places – rising to 72 places – for reception and key stage one children from Northway.

Barnet has six special schools for children with special education needs but because of a lack of sufficient spaces, some have to travel to schools out of the borough or go to independent schools.

Currently Northway offers places for 100 pupils who have learning difficulties, autism, and associated social, emotional, and mental health needs. This will increase by 72 places once Grasvenor Avenue is fully operational.

The space freed up at Mill Hill will enable Northway to increase its roll eventually to 200 places and become an all-through school for children from 5 to 18, with secondary places on offer for the first time.

Theresa Villiers, MP for Chipping Barnet, said she was relieved to see that the Grasvenor Avenue school was being repurposed and that the site had been saved from development.

Grasvenor Avenue was unusual among High Barnet primaries because it was infants only – taking children from reception until they were seven – and with a falling school roll it had faced financial difficulties for some years.

In its last year the school – with a capacity of 90 pupils – had just under 60 pupils and in a letter to parents the trustees said it was with “great sadness” they had been forced to opt for closure.

There will be a further significant boost to Barnet’s provision for children with special education needs – and 250 new places are needed by 2024 – if the new Windmill School, in Moxon Street, High Barnet,  open as planned in September, 2023.

A former warehouse and office block is to be converted into a special needs school for up to 90 children with a primary diagnosis of autism – aged from 5 to 18 – and will offer 20 places in its first academic year.