GLASGOW plans to shut its only residential unit for autistic children.

Council bosses will axe the six beds at its Middlefield School in the city's West End.

Officials insist the move is designed to make life better for the 13 children who use the residential unit every week.

And they deny they are trying to save cash at the school, which has 36 pupils aged five to 15, will continue to operate as usual.

A council spokeswoman said: "This is not about saving money but about giving families the flexibility in their child's personal care."

Middlefield Residential School currently has two floors, one for teaching and a second for living.

The living area includes a self-contained flat with showers and bedrooms for both children and a team of carers.

Education bosses on Thursday will meet with parents at the school - some are understood to be worried by the changes - to spell out alternatives.

The Evening Times understands no child lives in the school permanently.

However, the unit was well used by pupils for "sleepovers", either to develop their social skills or to offer their parents respite from their care.

The council spokeswoman said: "We recognise that the residential facility at the school provides support to some families which they value.

"Education and social work officers are meeting with the parent council this week to discuss alternative residential options for those pupils currently accessing the residential facility

"We have been exploring with social work how we can work together with families to continue to provide support and in particular, all year round support rather than just during school terms.

"This would allow the construction of packages which were ultimately better tailored to meet the individual needs of each family.

"The school is registered for six young people per night and on average 13 young people stay on a weekly basis."

Staff have already been informed about the changes.

At least two are "waking" workers, on duty during the night, and the residential unit has a manager.