PROPOSALS for a new dedicated autism learning centre have been brought forward to ensure disadvantaged children receive the right support.

The £1.9m project could see the new facility called 'The Base' constructed at Blessed Hugh Faringdon School in Southcote.

Councillors will be asked to discuss the plans for the 30-place centre at a policy committee meeting on July 16.

Planning permission is in place and a contractor has already been appointed to carry out the scheme, which has been recommended for approval to help meet demand for children who are on the autistic spectrum, or who have special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

Councillor Ashley Pearce, lead member for education, said: “The Base will provide a modern new teaching environment for children with autism and will help meet the growing demand for secondary SEND places.

“A number of children currently have to travel outside the borough which can be inconvenient for families and can result in higher placement and travel costs for the council.

“This new facility will benefit pupils and their families who will be able to build up friendships and support from other local families as well as saving Reading tax payers money in the long term.”

Reading Borough Council hopes the site will be fully operational by September 2019, with existing modular classrooms set to be torn down to make way for the facility.

An agreement has already been made with Hugh Faringdon, ensuring the centre can be used by the authority in any scenario where the school becomes an academy in the future.

The report reads: "It will be necessary to demolish the existing modular classroom block, which dates from the 1990’s and has exceeded its useful life.

"This will meet the demand for 30 specialist places for pupils with autistic spectrum condition and replace the 30-place mainstream classroom lost when the old caretaker house is demolished.

"The ability to stay within the borough also provides additional social benefits for the pupils and their families, allowing them to generate local friendships and support from other families."