HALF term has started early for 170 special school pupils due to high numbers of staff in self-isolation.

Winchelsea School, which caters for pupils aged four to 16 with a wide range of learning difficulties, will reopen on Monday November 2.

A spokesman for Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council said: "Due to a significant number of staff needing to self-isolate, the decision has been made for the school to extend the half term break from Wednesday October 21.

"We are aware that there have been people with symptoms highly suggestive of COVID-19 at Winchelsea School in Poole. The school is working closely with Public Health Dorset, BCP Council and Public Health England South West to ensure that all necessary measures are being met.

"All close contacts of the suspected cases have been notified and advised to self-isolate for 14 days as a precaution. Contacts should get tested if they go on to develop symptoms. Even if people test negative, they must still self-isolate for 14 days."

Winchelsea School in Guernsey Road, Poole, is a popular and heavily-oversubscribed special school.