PUPILS at a specialist school for young people with autism have been given a helping hand into work thanks to new facilities unveiled yesterday.

The TreeHouse School unveiled a new arts studio, a digital media suite, its own radio station - Ambition Radio – and a shop thanks to a £98,000 grant from the Help a Capital Child fund.

Teacher Abigel Siklaki said: “We played out shop scenarios in classes before, they were built into the programme. But it is difficult when you are pretending it is a shop for some pupils to get the gist of how the task.

“But this shop is much more like real life, and in the long-run some pupils may be able to work in a place like this for real.”

Invited guests were given a tour of the new studios which will be used by sixth form students at the school, in Woodside Avenue.

Arts tutor Noa Lidor said her new studio is making a world of difference to the quality of learning for pupils.

She said: “We are really enjoying working in the new studio, we have a calm, quiet environment, with natural light and space, and we have even been able to do landscape painting using the view.

“Before we had a makeshift, cramped environment, without any natural light and quite noisy. This has really made a lot of difference.”

Capital Radio presenter Margherita Taylor, who is the patron of Help a Capital Child, was the guest of honour yesterday for the unveiling, and after taking to the decks in the radio studio agreed to record a series of links for students to use in their classes.

She said: “This is an amazing, breathtaking facility. Just walking around you can see how the pupils can take the skills they are learning into the real world.

“Every parent wants their child to get skills they can take on to a job and be prepared for life. So for parents of a child with autism who have more concerns than most for their child, they will be very grateful for such a wonderful place as this.”

Jolanta Lasota, chief executive of charity Ambitious about Autism, which is based at and runs the school, said 90 per cent of people with autism do not go on to employment.

She said: “This is our first step, and we are hugely grateful to everybody at Help an Capital Child for helping us to make that step.”