EDUCATION chiefs have unveiled a £100m plan to build new schools for 6,500 pupils across Oxfordshire to ease the pressure on places.
The county council is actively seeking sponsors for new academies and free schools to build up to 10 new schools.
And it has set a five-year deadline to get the deals in place. The authority will spend £100m on creating 4,000 primary places and 2,500 secondary places at new schools near housing developments.
The council hopes the vast majority of the funding for the building costs coming from private developers, subject to negotiations.
Cabinet member for education Melinda Tilley said: “They are funded through developer contributions, rather than through us.
“We basically have to say where we feel the new schools need to be, and we’ve been looking at various developments over the years.
“We have to look ahead and forecast how many places we will need and how many schools we will need.”
The county has a serious shortage of primary school places, with particular pinchpoints in Oxford and Abingdon.
This year almost 1,000 of 7,736 children failed to get their first choice of primary school place and 473 did not get any of their three choices. The county council has predicted an increase in primary school-age pupils from 45,800 in 2010 to 2011 to around 50,000 in 2015 to 2016.
The figures are calculated using population growth, the increase in the school-age population, demographic trends related to housing growth, troop movements in and out of the county’s military bases and changes in the pattern of participation in state education.
The sites in the county’s plan include Bankside in Banbury, Heyford Park, Barton, Grove Airfield and Bicester Ecotown.
National Union of Teachers representative Gawain Little, who teaches at St Ebbe’s Primary School in Oxford, said the union was supportive of the council’s main aims.
He said: “Although we’re disappointed that the Government is dictating the type of schools which have to be built, we understand the need for new schools.
“We know there has been a huge growth in the number of children, particularly of primary school age, and obviously we will support the council and work with them.”
In a report to councillors, director of children’s services Jim Leivers said: “In the next five years the authority is likely to have to procure a number of new schools due to planned housing growth.
“The Education Act 2011 determined that all new schools should be academies or free schools unless no provider can be found by the authority or Department for Education.
“The authority has embraced the idea of academies and free schools and seeks to identify the best provision it can for school places in Oxfordshire.”
Oxfordshire County Council ’s cabinet approved plans to seek a sponsor to establish new academies and free schools across the county at a meeting on Tuesday.
Sites being considered:
- Banbury Bankside – Primary
- Heyford Park – Primary
- Bicester Gavray Drive – Primary
- Bicester Ecotown – Primary x 2
- Witney – Primary
- Oxford West End – Primary
- Oxford Barton – Primary
- Grove Airfield – Primary and secondary
- Wantage Crab Hill – Primary
- Didcot Great Western Park – Primary and secondary
Didcot North East – Primary
Didcot Ladygrove – Primary