WORK on a new building at a New Forest special school has been completed, following almost a million pounds-worth of funding.

Oak Lodge School, in Dibden Purlieu, used the £940,000 Hampshire County Council cash to allow it to expand and meet the demands for its services.

The new block, known as Acorns, includes four classrooms, each with smaller “nest” areas for quiet time, together with toilets, a staff room and a kitchen and life skills area. A canopy links the new classroom block with the main school, and a dedicated outside space has proved popular at break times. New parking spaces have also been created.

Councillor Stephen Reid, the authority’s education chief, said: “Oak Lodge is an inspiring school that achieves positive outcomes for its pupils by treating each of them as individuals and recognising their differing needs.

“However, a growing population and increased demand for specialist places meant the school needed to grow. I am very pleased that we have been able to provide this swiftly and effectively while maintaining the Oak Lodge character.”

Councillor Keith Mans, children’s services head, added: “We have seen first-hand today how proud the pupils are of their school and its new facilities, and how the school works closely with its neighbour Applemore College to benefit both school communities.

“As well as providing a tailored academic curriculum that caters for a wide variety of needs and abilities, the life skills taught at Oak Lodge equip some of our most vulnerable young people with a level of confidence and independence that will help them transition into adult life, so the county council’s investment is money well spent.”

The new building, which opened in time for the start of this academic year, was granted funding back in January. Work started in June, with the building being made offsite before getting moved to its permanent home.

Sharon Burt, headteacher at the school, said: “Pupils are now being placed at Oak Lodge School with increasingly complex emotional/mental health needs associated with Autism. Our team are very skilled in tailoring the breadth and diversity of the curriculum, working closely with our partners and parents, to cater for each and every student to improve their well-being, so they enjoy and achieve as they become well prepared for adulthood.

“The additional building, customised to the needs of students, has enabled the school to provide more space for personalised learning and to further extend our specialism in the Arts as a medium for developing pupils’ communication, social and independence skills, enabling students to build their self-confidence and self-esteem.”