EIGHTY children with special needs could be educated in Dorset if plans to expand a school are approved.

Plans to expand Beaucroft School in Wimborne will be discussed by Dorset Council's cabinet at a meeting on July 27.

If the plans are approved, up to 80 places for Dorset children and young people with Special Educational Needs or Disabilities (SEND) will be created, with a particular focus on those in post-16 education which will help reduce the council's need for independent placements.

Independent provision costs roughly £60,000 a year per child, compared to around £22,000 at one of Dorset's own special schools. It is proposed that in some cases education could be better provided with an increase in local provision that allows young people to be better educated closer to home and in their local communities.

Councillor Andrew Parry, Dorset Council portfolio holder for children, education and early help, said: "The proposed expansion of Beaucroft school will go towards improving the lives of Dorset's children and young people with SEND by enabling more of our children to be educated locally in their communities.

"At present, some children and young people must travel for educational provision, sometimes far from home, because with continued growth in demand there currently is not enough provision in Dorset to meet their needs.

"I believe the plans outlined are a great opportunity to expand on one of Dorset's existing special schools so that more of our children can receive their education closer to home."