Bicester primary on the move and set to double in size

The Oxford Times: Head Damian Booth with pupils at St Edburg's Buy this photo » Head Damian Booth with pupils at St Edburg's

OXFORDSHIRE County Council has agreed to give £6.64m so a popular Bicester primary school can expand on a new site.

The money will go to the Diocese of Oxford and will see St Edburg’s Primary School move from its current site in Cemetery Road, Bicester, to Kingsmere.The new building is expected to open in September 2014.

Pupils and staff reacted with delight after the council approved the transfer of funds on Tuesday.

Headteacher Damian Booth said: “For me, this agreement further strengthens the on-going commitment made by both the Oxford Diocese and the county council, to provide high quality learning environments for the pupils of Oxfordshire.

“Both have been working hard behind the scenes to broker the agreement and as Bicester is set to expand and its demographic increases, the demand for places at good schools such as ours is of a premium.

“Pupils are obviously excited about the move and some have already expressed their own ideas of what it should be like.

“The process of building the new school will form part of the school’s curriculum over the next 12 months.

“We are looking forward to helping design the playgrounds, create artwork for exhibiting and of course visiting the new site.

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“Detailed work on the design is under way and following the transfer of funds, we can now apply for planning permission and subsequent to approval, we are looking to start on site this summer.”

In 2010 the governing body at the school proposed to relocate to the Kingsmere development as the 1,585 new homes would lead to an increase in pupil numbers.

Money from the developer was set aside to pay for the new building, and has now been given to the diocese to deliver the project.

The county council cabinet unanimously agreed the transfer at a meeting on Tuesday.

A report to the meeting outlined the extent to which St Edburg was already struggling to cope with pupil numbers. It said there were virtually no spare first-year entry places across Bicester last September.

The school, which is the oldest primary in the town and has about 150 pupils, will move to two-form entry to cope with the demand, effectively doubling it in size by providing two classes per year.

It will also lower its entry age range and take pupils as young as three.

It is expected to be open in September 2014. When Kingsmere is fully occupied it is expected that almost all the school pupils would live within the development.

Once the school has transferred the existing Cemetery Road site will be put up for sale for about £700,000.

The council said it would pump the money back into school sites serving Bicester.

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