A new free school for children with special educational needs and disabilities has been approved.

Yesterday the Department for Education gave the go-ahead to Richmond Council’s bid, made by children’s services provider Achieving for Children, for the new free school.

The learning facility will provide 90 places for kids aged between seven and 19 who have Social, Emotional and Mental Health needs.

Councillor Penny Frost, cabinet member for children’s services and schools, welcomed the decision.

“This is fantastic news for the borough, but particularly for the children and young people whom the school will educate, as it means that they will be able to remain in education within their home community," she said.

“Sometimes, parents and carers have had little choice but to opt for schools outside the local area, often considerably far away. This new school will fill a significant gap in our local offer.

“The establishment of the school will also enable the council to make substantial savings compared with the costs of out-borough education providers.

“We will now look to secure the best possible education provider to open and manage the school and play a full part in our local family of schools.”

Subject to planning permission, the school will be part of South West London St George’s Mental Health Trust’s redevelopment of the Barnes Hospital site, on South Worple Way.

Achieving for Children, who will hold a competition this spring to decide on which education provider will run the school. The decision is expected to be revealed later this year.

The Department for Education will provide the capital required to build the school and it is hoped that it will be ready to open in September 2022.