A new special educational needs school (SEN) will be built in Reading after the council and two neighbouring authorities were successful in their bid to the Department for Education.

The school will welcome students on the autistic spectrum as well as students with social emotional and mental health (SEMH) needs.

The bid for a new SEN free school, which is anticipated to open in 2022, was made jointly with West Berkshire Council and Wokingham Borough Council.

The exact location of the school is yet to be confirmed but it will be in Reading, with a capacity for 150 students, to be shared amongst the three local authorities.

Councillor Ashley Pearce, lead member for Education, said: “We are delighted. It will mean 150 places and at least a third of those are ours.

“That is a pretty big increase in capacity. It will be a good increase in provision for young people in need.

“They are nearer to their homes friends and families and it helps us to save money.”

Trusts will be invited to bid to run the school once the specification is complete, with interviews likely to follow before the Regional Schools Commissioner selects the trust that will sponsor the school.

The new school forms part of the council’s wider SEN strategy to provide more suitable spaces for Reading’s youngsters in Reading schools.

The ‘Now is the Time’ strategy also includes expansion of provision at The Avenue and Blessed Hugh Farringdon, two new ASC Units in Reading’s primary schools and relocation of Phoenix College.

Cllr Pearce outlined the importance of increasing provision for SEN children last month in a report alongside the strategy document.

He said: “In Reading the proportion of pupils with additional needs is increasing, and this strategy identifies our aims to increase provision.

“We understand the battles parents of our SEN pupils often face and want to ensure provision is increased to enable all of our students to access the education they are entitled to.

“These projects will help increase capacity to enable more students to stay in Borough.”

The school is one of 37 successful bids for special needs free school in England.

Dame Christine Lenehan, Director of the Council for Disabled Children, said: "We are pleased to welcome the new wave of special free schools and the extra choice they will bring to the system for children with special educational needs.

"We look forward to seeing them working in partnership with parents, children and local agencies to deliver the best outcomes for children."