A CONSULTATION has begun over Bradford Council plans to create 160 extra places for pupils with special educational needs at the district's schools.

It is proposed that ten schools be expanded to either create specialist provision or increase existing numbers of spaces.

If the plans go ahead, 126 full-time and 34 part-time places will be created at nurseries, primary schools and specialist schools by mid April.

The number of Bradford-district children diagnosed with having special educational needs and disabilities has been rising in recent years, partly due to faster diagnosis of young people with conditions like autism.

Many pupils with additional needs are currently taught in mainstream schools, but the council has decided that the needs of the children would be better met in specialist provision.

As part of the proposals, the number of spaces for children with autism at Crossflatts Primary would rise from 12 to 16.

A council spokesman said: “Bradford has a growing population and we know that there is a growing need for more specialist places in our schools.

“We are working closely with schools in the district to achieve this.

"There is a shared commitment from the council and schools to ensure that the needs of these pupils can be met.”

The proposed new places will be followed by two purpose-built free schools built within the Bradford district in the next few years.

One free school is expected to open in the south of the district and one in the north. Both will have about 170 pupils.