BASINGSTOKE'S newest school is officially open, offering spaces for 120 children with autism.

Last week, Basingstoke's MP Maria Miller visited the new Austen Academy on Shakespeare Road, posting to Twitter: "Our newest school in Basingstoke is open!"

Austen Academy is a school built for 120 children aged 5-16 years who have social and communication difficulties or autistic spectrum disorder..

Mrs Miller met with the headteacher of the Austen Academy, Liz Cooper, for a tour of the school and an update.

She said: “There is nothing more important than a good education to give our children the best start in life and it’s crucial that children with special needs have the support they need. The new Austen Academy and the expansion at South View mean more children will be able to get the specialist support they need.

“It’s vital that more school places go hand in hand with house building in our part of North Hampshire. These new places at South View and the Austen Academy are an important part of that.”

“Despite the pandemic this school building works at Austen Academy is on budget and ahead of schedule. It’s great to see the progress since I last visited the site; and to see how the design of the building will specifically cater for approximately 120 children with special educational needs.”

She continued: “This new facility will be of huge benefit to children with special educational needs, but also an asset for the local community.

“The £10.1m school development was funded by the Department for Education’s fund for special educational needs and disabilities. The site is leased to Catch 22 Multi Academy Trust, who also operate Coppice Spring and Ashwood Academies in Basingstoke. The school’s design caters for children’s special educational needs and disabilities, as well environmental features to reduce energy consumption and mitigate the impact of climate change.”

Mrs Miller also met staff at South View Junior school to discuss the newly funded Specialist Provision which will support 21 Children with Special Education Needs for Speech and Language Communication Needs.

She said: “I welcome the Government’s commitment to funding specialist provision alongside mainstream education. It was good to see first-hand South View School’s commitment to helping children who need that extra support.”