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Talks aim to tackle concerns about Barton West schools
COUNTY education chiefs are in discussions with the developers behind the Barton West housing scheme over solving anticipated secondary school problems.
The move comes after concerns were raised about whether there is enough secondary school provision in Oxford to cope with the demand from the 885-home development.
The planning application, which has already been submitted, includes a primary school on a site more than two hectares in size.
But there have been fears about what the extra homes will mean for the area’s secondary schools – such as Cheney and Cherwell.
Roz Smith, county councillor for Headington & Quarry division, said: “I am concerned that we are going to have another big development with hopefully more families moving in and their children will have to go to school somewhere.
“It is all very well thinking about primary schools but the county council needs to be thinking ahead about secondary schools. It is a question it needs to be thinking about now.”
Sue Holden, of the Barton Community Association, agreed.
She said: “When you are building that many homes a primary school is absolutely essential but by the same token we need to make sure there are enough secondary school places.
“We have spoken a lot about the primary schools but there has been very little discussion about a secondary school and I think it is something which needs to be discussed to reassure people.”
As part of the development there will be a one-and-a-half-form entry primary school which will be able to be extended to two-form entry.
Oxfordshire County Council spokesman Owen Morton said: “The county council has a statutory role to ensure sufficient school places for Oxfordshire students.
“We can confirm we are in ongoing discussions with the Barton West developer regarding Section 106 contributions to go towards future secondary provision, but can’t go into further detail at this stage.”
But county councillor Melinda Tilley, the council's cabinet member for education, said the authority is aware of the issue and looking at it.
Cherwell is already oversubscribed and has more than 1,800 pupils on its roll. Cheney has 1,443 pupils. Both are now academies, which means they can change their admissions policies and catchment areas.
Meanwhile Wheatley Park School, which has 1,023 pupils, is hoping to convert to academy status .
Jolie Kirby, headteacher of Cheney School, said it was also oversubscribed. She said: “As a school we are very large already but we would always wish to continue to provide for those diverse communities in the area.
“But I can see that there is going to be a demographic issue which has to be planned for now so parents can get their first choice school.
“There is a bulge in all of our feeder primaries and we have already contacted the local authority to find out what the plan is to deal with that.”
Sorrel Basher, a spokesman for the Barton Oxford LLP, said: “The LLP has been asked to provide funding to support improvements to infrastructure and education and this is being considered alongside the other potential funding sources.”
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