FIVE new centres for pupils with special educational needs are to be created in Southampton in a bid to raise standards.

The specialist centres, worth £3m, will be built at five secondary schools set to be refurbished or rebuilt through the £100m building schools for the future (BSF) programme – the biggest single investment in city schools for 50 years.

A sixth existing learning centre, at Cantell Maths and Computing College, will be adapted to cater for children with a wider range of learning difficulties.

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The learning centres will each specialise in a different type of need, from physical disability, to autism and visual impairment. They are designed for young people who need additional help during the school day but not the intensive support provided at a dedicated SEN school.

Pupils attending them will also have access to main school facilities. The move will benefit an additional 50 young people.

Schools boss, councillor Paul Holmes approved the new centres saying they would help ensure every pupil in the city received a “top notch education”.

He said: “Our aim is to give pupils with SEN better opportunities to do their best, therefore contributing to raising standards in the city as a whole.

These learning centres will also mean a wider choice of schools in Southampton, especially for young people who currently travel outside the city for specialist education.”

The learning centres will be created at the same time as the schools are rebuilt or refurbished, to open between September 2011 and September 2015.

They will be located at Bitterne Park School (autism), Chamberlayne College (physical learning difficulties), St George Catholic College (learning difficulties), Sholing College (behavioural, emotional and social difficulties), Upper Shirley High School (visual impairment), and Cantell (learning difficulties).

As revealed in yesterday’s Daily Echo the city council has submitted its business plan for the multi-million pound school revamp scheme to the Government for approval.