Five new schools are in the pipeline for the Banbury area to cope with rising demand for places.
A new primary school on Southam Road, Banbury, and a special school in ‘rural north Oxfordshire’ are due to open in 2020.
While another new primary school on Salt Way, a new secondary school in Banbury and a new primary school in Chipping Norton are earmarked subject to housebuilding.
Current projections from Oxfordshire County Council show an increase in secondary school pupils of 19.3 per cent and a 5.7 per cent rise in the number of primary school pupils in the county by 2023.
Barbara Chillman, service manager in pupil place planning at the council, said: “The birth rate peaked in 2015 and is now declining once more – but it remains higher than the levels experienced in the 1990s and 2000s.
“However there are other factors to take in to consideration when planning ahead for school numbers – these include migration, rapid growth in house-building and troop movements in a county that has high levels of military employment.
“Each of these factors and others are monitored very carefully – not just at the level of the county as a whole but also in each town and village.
“It is this method of working that has meant so many parents have been able to receive their first choice of school despite all of the recent changes.
“Our forecasts are updated annually and are based on school census data, population forecasts – which include planned housing development – and recent patterns of parental choice.
“One of the county council’s over-arching aims as an organisation is to work to ensure every child gets a good start in life and school place planning is a key part of that.”
Since 2013, Oxfordshire has seen the opening of a new SEN school in Oxford, two studio schools and a University Technical College, two all-age schools, a secondary school and five primary schools.
These mark the start of a prolonged programme of new schools planned for Oxfordshire – around 30 in total.
Where schools are required as a result of housing development, the Government expects developers to fund their construction.
As of September, 95 per cent of Oxfordshire secondary schools, 42 per cent of primary schools and 44 per cent of special schools are academies.
Academies are not accountable to the county council and receive their budget directly from central government.
School places are no longer therefore solely provided by the county council and the council must work with other providers to ensure that the need is met.
But the county council has a legal duty to ensure that the correct number of school places are available, which it does using a School Organisation Plan, which also shows:
• The number of primary pupils on roll at Oxfordshire’s mainstream schools rose by 237 or 0.5 per cent between 2016/17 and 2017/18 continuing the slow-down experienced in recent years. Reception numbers fell by 3.6 per cent
• Year 7 numbers grew by 2.6 per cent continuing the increase in demand for secondary school places as the increased birth rate feeds through
• Total secondary school pupil numbers are now also growing strongly – by 2.1 per cent between the academic years 2016/17 and 2017/18
Ms Chillman added: “This level of planning is needed to make sure the number of school places is delivered in the right places and in the right numbers.
“Difficulties do arise and we try our best to respond. We have a dedicated team at the county council to oversee this work and they play a crucial role in looking ahead to future years and updating planning.”