A WEYMOUTH school has finally secured its own sports hall and gym - 31 years after it first opened.

Westfield Special School has been surviving without a proper sports hall since it was built in 1976.

But now, thanks to a £3 million development, children and teachers have welcomed a state-of-the-art gym, extra classrooms and therapy space.

Headteacher at the Littlemoor Road school Phil Silvester said: "We've never had a gym or sports hall.

"Traditionally schools of this type had just one hall used for assemblies, school dinners, sports, celebrations - absolutely everything.

"And it was also a corridor, used for getting from one part of the building to another.

"To now have a new hall fit for purpose, it's just wonderful."

The new extension - named the Gould Building after chair of governors Kathryn Gould - includes six classrooms, a train ing suite, computer lab, climbing wall, sensory room and therapy room.

Mr Silvester said: "Our children have a myriad of needs and most children will have at least one therapist working with them whether it be a physio, occupational therapist, speech therapist or counsellor.

"The difficulty in schools like ours is that there has never been any space for therapists to work."

The new therapy room will provide a working space specifically for children and therapists, instead of relying on empty classrooms or spare offices.

The sensory room will have a variety of lights, music and soft play equipment.

It will offer stimulation for the children in a calming environment.

Mr Silvester said: "The first response from the children was to say, 'It's like having a proper school!' which took us back a little.

"But it does feel fantastic to be equipped with a really good school building and excellent facilities.

"It's taken a really long time and it's been a long journey to get the facilities we should have had a long time ago, but we've got here."

Mr Silvester blamed the delay on Dorset's poor funding from central government.

He added: "We want the new building to be used to the max and the sports hall is available to the public for hire."