A NEW special school will be built in Dorset to support teenagers with autism and complex learning difficulties.

Dorset County Council has made a successful bid for funding to the Department for Education(DfE).

Now it plans to advertise the opportunity for potential trusts to apply to establish the new school, which will be a free school.

It is not yet known which part of the county it will be built in but it is expected to support pupils from Bournemouth and Poole, as well as the Dorset County Council area.

The council made the bid after ministers announced funding for 39 new schools across the country to create an extra 3,500 places for pupils with complex needs such as autism, severe learning difficulties, mental health conditions and those at risk of being excluded from mainstream schools.

The new school will have around 75 pupils aged between 14 and 19.

Andrew Reid, Dorset County Council’s assistant director for schools and learning, said: "This is fantastic news. We want to provide more specialist provision here in Dorset, as there are a lot of young people who currently have to travel outside of the county to receive the support they need.

"The new school will mean pupils spend less time travelling and will be educated closer to their families and local communities.

"It will also mean that we won’t have to rely as much on independent placements, which will help ease some of the pressure on schools’ high needs funding.

"Most importantly, this new school will offer young people a great education, encourage them be the best they can be and help them prepare for adulthood."

Mr Reid said the project is still in its early stages and work will now begin to identify the best location for it.

This latest announcement builds on the county council’s plan to provide more support for children with complex communication needs. Last year, the council committed to invest more than £2million – plus a £1m grant from central government – to create a number of specialist bases in mainstream schools.

A new special school is also due to open in Bovington this September. Funded by the DfE, it will provide places for another 160 children with autism, as well as social, emotional and mental health needs. The school will support pupils from Dorset, Bournemouth and Poole.