When It Happens Panel Get involved: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting 'OXFORD NEWS' to 80360 or email
Schools press on in Academy bid
DIDCOT’S two secondary schools have confirmed they will unite in a bid to run a third academy in the town.
People are being asked how new schools on the Great Western Park estate should be run.
Didcot Girls’ School, boys’ school St Birinus, and Abingdon and Witney College want to run the secondary stage academy on the new estate.
More than 3,300 homes are being built off the A4130, and more than 200 families have already moved in.
Education bosses at County Hall estimate that there could be 400 to 500 more primary age children and 300 more secondary age children in Didcot by 2016 because of the new estate.
Three new academies are to be created, a secondary school and two primaries.
Town council leader Margaret Davies said: “I would encourage residents to take part in this consultation even if they are not parents because it’s an important stage in Didcot’s development.
“It’s not a done deal that the two schools will run the third academy – there could be quite a few bidders.”
The headteachers of Didcot Girls’ and St Birinus schools said the academy they hoped to run would be an ‘all-through’ school, taking pupils aged three to 19.
The two schools, both academies, already run a joint sixth form, offering more than 45 courses.
Girls’ school head Rachael Warwick said: “We believe every young person in Didcot has the right to a world-class education and we can deliver this by working in partnership with St Birinus and Abingdon and Witney College to open a brand new school in the town.”
Mr Richards added: “Developing a joint approach to the new school means we can retain what is best in our ethos and develop the depth and breadth of learning for all in Didcot.”
The county council consultation runs until March 31 and asks residents what sort of trusts people would like to see running the new academies.
Responses will be used to draw up a final version of specifications for the new schools, which will be presented to those interested in making a bid.
Funding for construction work has been secured from developers and the sites at Great Western Park agreed.
The expansion of Stephen Freeman Primary School on the edge of the estate has already catered for the primary school-age children who have moved there.
The Government says all new schools must be academies and run by independent trusts, not local authorities.
Further information will be available at The Vibe Hub in Park Road, Didcot, on Thursday February 21 from 2pm to 4pm, and on Friday, February 22 from 6pm to 8pm.