PLANS for a new school for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) were put before members of the public.

The Harbour School will be a new free special school situated on the former Bovington Middle School site in Cologne Road.

The school closed in August 2013.

The proposals, which have been put forward by Dorset County Council in partnership with the Delta Education Trust, were presented at a public engagement event last week.

The Harbour School will meet the needs of children with autism and social, emotional and mental health needs, from the ages of 10 to 19.

At full capacity, the completed school will be able to accommodate 160 pupils and will employ at least 80 members of staff.

Dorset County Council, along with Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole councils, has “significant demand” for additional special school places. Currently, some children require residential provision as their education is provided so far from home.

The Harbour School will provide an opportunity for children in Bovington and surrounding areas to access education closer to home, eliminating excessive travel for some, which can be stressful for pupils with additional needs.

Cllr Andrew Parry, cabinet member for education, learning and skills at Dorset County Council, has welcomed the plans.

He said: “Dorset County Council is committed to providing ‘great education, close to home’ for as many children as possible.

“Local education means that children can be part of their community and parents can more easily engage with their child’s school.”

The Harbour School is expected to open in temporary buildings on the former Bovington Middle School site in September 2019.

These buildings will accommodate 25 children.

There will then be a phased occupancy of the new school once construction has been completed, which is expected to be at the end of 2020.

A Dorset County Council spokesperson said the new school will “engage with the local community, developing positive relationships and providing a new resource for the residents of Bovington and the surrounding area”.

Last week’s event was attended by Cllr Parry, as well as Assistant Director for Children’s Services at Dorset County Council, Andrew Reid, and Chief Executive of the Delta Education Trust, Jo Perry.