Katie Parlett MBE

My name is Katie Parlett and I am the proud founder and CEO of Lighthouse Futures Trust.

I have an amazing daughter, Eve, who has Retts syndrome and is autistic  When she was 12, back in 2009, I realised that the education system wasn’t really drawing out her skills and talents.  I started talking with 4 other parents with sons and daughters with similar support needs and we decided we needed to do something about it.

After two long and challenging years of meetings, business planning, fundraising and negotiations, Lighthouse School opened its doors in 2012.  It was the first Special Free School in the country, based on the former Cookridge Hospital site in North Leeds and I now chair the Board of Governors.  We enrolled almost 90 students this year.

In order to support some of the extra-curricular activities, we initially set up “Friends of Lighthouse School” as a registered charity.  This originally focused on raising funds to buy equipment and fund activities that were outside the scope of the statutory funding that the school receives.  After the first three years we realised that, despite the high-quality education we gave our students in the classroom, their future outlook was poor once they had left us. Accordingly, in 2015, we changed the name of the charity to Lighthouse Futures Trust and began to focus more on programmes designed to help young people aged 16-25 to move into employment.

The charity operates completely separately from the school with an independent board of trustees/directors although there are close bonds between the two organisations.

Lighthouse School Exterior Shot