AN academy which runs a Calne special school is expanding into the south of Wiltshire to offer places for 150 children with autism and social, emotional and mental health needs.

A decision to create a new school near Salisbury was announced last year in a bid to prevent pupils having to travel long distances to get the right education.

Now it has been agreed by the Department for Education that Reach South Academy Trust, which already runs Springfield Academy in Calne, will operate the new school in the south.

A Wiltshire Council spokesman said: "Reach South runs Springfields Academy which is based across two sites in Calne and at Sarum Academy in Salisbury. The Salisbury site is known as Springfields South and opened in February 2019 for pupils with ASD and SEMH.

"The new school, which will teach children aged 4-19, will have strong links with mainstream schools, nurseries and children’s centres. Details on where the new school will be based are due to be shared shortly. The school will have strong links with the community and will help pupils to gain independence and access a breadth of learning."

Cllr Laura Mayes, Cabinet Member for Children, Education and Skills, said: “This new school is going to make a huge difference to those families with SEND children in south Wiltshire. We are delighted that Reach South, with many years of experience, will be at the helm of an exciting new future.”

Dean Ashton, CEO of Reach South Academy Trust said: “The school will build safe, independent lives for pupils through support, understanding and enablement

“We have high aspirations and expectations and we are excited to work in close partnership with Wiltshire Council and to support their work to deliver a system of excellence to ensure that all children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities in Wiltshire have access to a first class education.

“We’re committed to outreach and we want to support other schools and the local community, particularly parents and families. Our curriculum will be about breadth and challenge offering practical, multi-sensory, and real life experiences.”

Springfields South already works closely with Magna Learning Partnership and Exeter House School in Salisbury, which supports pupils with complex needs.