Funding has been approved to help children with high-functioning autism to attend mainstream secondary school.

Redbridge Council has agreed to pay for 28 places for autistic children at Caterham High School, as well as converting an outbuilding into a “dedicated specialist base”.

Cabinet members also agreed to create 21 new places at Newbridge School, which serves children with more complex learning difficulties, by adding a three-classroom “modular” extension.

The four additional places a year at Caterham High School will help meet a “substantial growth in demand” for special needs education in the borough, according to a report prepared for the meeting.

The council also hopes to save money it would otherwise have spent sending children to private or specialist schools.

Such places cost an average of £50,000 a year, whereas places at Caterham High School will cost just over £20,000 annually.

A review of special educational needs in the borough recommended the council aims to create 140 new places for pupils with special educational needs by 2023.