A special school in Reading has won the right to increase its pupil numbers.

The Avenue Special School in Tilehurst will expand to accept 60 more special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) pupils and increase staff numbers by 77 as plans to convert unused offices in the school have been approved.

When it was originally opened in Conwy Close in 2008 it was used both as a school and as a base for 150 of the council’s childrens services staff, who occupied the first and second floors of the building.

But the children’s services staff have since left, meaning the offices have been dormant.

That’s why Reading Borough Council applied to convert the offices into new classrooms, which means the school can increase the number of pupils it takes in.

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Previously, The Avenue School has a capacity for 175 pupils but now that can increase to 235 pupils.

The extra 60 pupils can be admitted once the conversions take place, with the plan for the conversions being approved by the council’s planning committee.

Celebrating the move, councillor Jane Stanford-Beale (Conservative, Peppard) said: “I want to thank the authority for increasing the number of special needs spaces, as we’ve got so many more children that require them.”

The number of people occupying the school will actually go down now the office conversion has been approved.

Previously, a total of 500 people occupied the school building: 175 pupils, 175 school staff and 150 staff from the council’s education department.

But the number will go down by 13 to a total of 487 people, with room for 235 pupils and 252 school staff members.

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The issue of car parking was raised as a concern as a result of the expansion.

Although council officer Claire Ringwood pointed out that the council’s parking standards would typically require an additional 77 car parking spaces to be provided at the school, the plan only provides for 50 additional spaces.

However, the council has been able to reach an agreement with the nearby Meadway Sports Centre to be able to use its car park during school


And it was felt that the parking issues were outweighed by benefits of the school’s expansion.

Councillor Jo Lovelock (Labour, Norcot), the chair of the committee, said: “Given it used to have staff coming and going for the offices there, parking is extremely important to get it right.

“Nevertheless it used to be quite busy because of the offices anyway, so it’s acceptable and a creative way of ensuring staff needing to get to the school can park.”

The plan was approved unanimously yesterday (Wednesday, February 2).

The school expansion plan was approved by the council’s policy committee in July last year, but has only recently made it through the planning applications process.