Children with special educational needs will soon be able to benefit from a purpose-built school, with space for specialist equipment and lessons.

Churchward School, a free special school attended by around 75 11-19 year olds with autism and other social and communication difficulties, has been given the go-ahead by Swindon Borough Council for a new building in William Morris Way in the Tadpole Garden Village development.

Thrilled headteacher David Dearsley said: “It’s wonderful that we’ve got permission.

“At the moment we are in a converted industrial unit out on an estate in Lydiard Millicent – this new building will give us so many more opportunities for the students’ education.”

The single-storey F-shaped building will feature classrooms each with direct access to a covered outdoor area to allow lessons to move inside or out.

Mr Dearsley added: “We will have a number of specific quiet and de-escalation rooms where the students can take time if they’re under stress.

“A lot of our work is about preparing the young people for a life after education, for a degree of independence and work, so we concentrate a lot on teaching life skills.

“We will be able to teach cooking, and skills like woodwork and design technology, we’ll have a specially designed science laboratory.

“And we will have room for specialist therapies, so when we have people come in there’s a space for them to work with the students, and we’ll also have a sensory room.”

The school has been designed by architects Scott Brownrigg, and Mr Dearsley praised the company for the care and time it has spent in addressing the specific needs the school’s pupils will have.

He said: “They’ve talked to us, and we’ve had specialist advice from the Department for Education and a lot of expertise.

“It’s also been really helpful being part of the Brunel SEN multi-academy trust, which runs four other SEN schools in Swindon.

"We were able to talk to people from those schools and ask them what’s worked, and what’s not worked there."

Work is expected to begin in the summer on the new school.

Mr Dearsley said: “We’re hoping to have a groundbreaking ceremony to mark the start of work.”