New schools for Oxfordshire | Oxfordshire County Council

New schools for Oxfordshire

Information about proposals for new schools in Oxfordshire.

The 2011 Education Act says that all new schools are expected to be academies, including special types of academies such as Free Schools, University Technical Colleges (UTCs) and Studio Schools. This means that they are not run by the county council, but by independent academy trusts.

These trusts can be set up by a wide range of organisations, including religious groups, educational specialists, employers, charities and community groups. Existing academies can apply to run new schools. In some cases, instead of opening new schools additional places can be provided by expanding existing schools.

Oxfordshire County Council will not run new schools, but has two roles in their creation.

  • Planning for and securing sufficient school places: the county council is responsible for negotiating sites and funding for new schools.
  • Deciding who will run the schools: the new schools could be run by organisations which already run schools in the area – for example local outstanding academies or the church dioceses – or by organisations new to Oxfordshire. The county council recommends a preferred sponsor but the final decision is taken by the Secretary of State for Education.

Interested in opening a new school

Organisations which are interested in opening a new school in Oxfordshire are welcome to contact our academies team for information and advice.

Bidding process

The government has provided guidance on a bidding and selection process to choose which organisation(s) will run the new schools. In Oxfordshire, the process for new schools is:

  1. Undertake a public consultation to identify the academy model to be implemented.
  2. Invite initial expressions of interest in running the school.
  3. Assess expressions of interest and then invite detailed bids from three or fewer providers to show clear plans of how they will contribute to the raising of education standards, add diversity of choice and which best fits the local requirements and meets the needs of those within groups offered specific protection under s149 Equality Act 2010.
  4. Assess bids against criteria and rank in order of preference. Agree a preferred option to be approved by Lead Member for Education or Cabinet as appropriate.
  5. Submit preferred sponsor choice to the Regional Schools Commissioner for decision.
  6. Proposal developed with provider approved by Regional Schools Commissioner through sharing vision of community, county and sponsor.

The Secretary of State will only consider entering into a funding agreement with an approved sponsor. (The DfE's approved sponsor list can be accessed from the website )

Potential proposers who are not already known to the DfE are advised to contact the DfE at the earliest opportunity, and certainly before submitting a formal process to the county council.

New schools

Didcot Great Western Park schools


On 21 May 2013 the Oxfordshire County Council Cabinet approved the specification for new schools in Didcot's Great Western Park development. This was for two new two form entry (2fe) primary schools and a new 11-16 secondary school for up to 1200 pupils. This is in addition to the Oxfordshire UTC, which is already open. Full details are provided in the specification document (pdf format, 157Kb)

Selection process

Expressions of interest were invited to run one or more of the proposed schools in July 2013. These were then shortlisted and detailed applications and interviews followed in November. Following the interviews a report was submitted to the county council's Cabinet on 17 December 2013.

The county council Cabinet’s preferred sponsors were GEMS Trust to provide the first primary school at Great Western Park, and GLF Schools to provide the secondary school and the second primary school, which will be run as an all-through 4-16 age range school on split sites.

These recommendations were formally approved by the Department for Education.

Opening dates

  • September 2016 – GEMS Didcot Primary Academy (first primary school) opens
    Sponsors of this school are GEMS Learning Trust
  • September 2017 – Aureus School (secondary school) opens
    Sponsors of this school are GLF Schools
  • September 2018 – Aureus Primary School (second primary school) opens
    Sponsors of this school are GLF Schools who will run this school and Aureus School as one all-age school on split sites

Grove and Wantage schools

A public consultation on the future of school provision in the Grove and Wantage area was held between 3 June and 15 July 2013.

Following the consultation and after consideration of the responses received, county council officers submitted a report to the Member for Children, Education & Families Cllr Melinda Tilley putting forward some proposals. The report was discussed at the Member for CEF’s meeting on 4 November 2013. Minutes of this meeting will also be available to view when finalised.

The recommendations made at the end of the report were approved by the Member for CEF. These were:

  • Maintain Grove CE Primary School in its current location, and work with the school to plan suitable accommodation for it to operate as a 1 form entry primary school, serving its existing community, as well as housing development in the close vicinity. As the school’s current capacity is dependent on temporary accommodation, developer contributions will be sought towards permanent extension from developments which are judged to have a closer geographic and temporal relationship to Grove CE School than to the planned new schools. If the Monk’s Farm development requires growth in school capacity before new schools are possible on Grove Airfield, the county council would welcome discussion with the Monk’s Farm developer about how additional site area could be provided for Grove CE School to allow it to further expand.
  • Maintain the requirement for two 2 form entry primary schools on the Grove Airfield development. Grove Airfield itself is expected to require, and thus fund, one 2 form entry school and one 1 form entry school; the latter would be expanded to 2 form entry  in response to other relevant local housing development, such as that proposed for Monk’s Farm (unless an alternative solution has already been delivered due to relative timescales of developments). Such housing development would be expected to fund all additional costs of providing the second form of entry, whether this is required at the same time of the initial construction of the school or at a later stage. If the relative timings of developments are such that the Grove Airfield new schools do not offer a solution, such developments would be expected to provide alternatives, for example at Grove CE Primary School as outlined above or another new school, acceptable to the county council. The county council will object to housing proposals if it does not agree that acceptable school provision can be made.
  • Maintain the requirement for a new 2 form entry primary school on the Crab Hill development, to be fully funded by the developer
  • Academy providers for new schools will be sought in due course, once the timescale for opening each new school is available.
  • The site for the first new school on Grove Airfield, and the new school on Crab Hill, will need to be made available by the developers at the earliest practicable date, to allow timely delivery. The delivery timescale for the site of the second new school on Grove Airfield will depend on the speed of housing growth.
  • Continue to review local school capacity with respect to changing housing development details and demographic pressure, and if necessary, work with the existing schools to plan expansions of capacity either on an interim or permanent basis.

The following proposed secondary school strategy for Grove and Wantage:

  • Maintain the requirement for a new secondary school within the Grove Airfield development, on a site sufficient for up to 1200 pupils. The eventual size of school will need to be determined based on further details of housing size, type and timing, as well as evidence on underlying demand for school places.
  • Based on current information about future pupil numbers, it is estimated that the new school will need to provide for 900 additional pupils as a result of housing development.
  • Relevant housing developments should be required to contribute towards the funding of this new school on a pro rata basis, according to the projected pupil generation of each development, and based on the costs of a 900 place school.
  • The site for the new school will need to be made available by the Grove Airfield at the earliest practicable date, to allow timely delivery.
  • Details of the nature of the new school may need to be subject to further consultation as part of the process for identifying an academy provider, once the timescale for opening the new school is available.
  • Continue to work with King Alfred’s to identify and plan for the emerging pressures on secondary school capacity ahead of the new Grove school opening, and to respond to any changes in housing development proposals.

It should be noted that none of the proposals approved were a change to already adopted county council policy.

Further reports will be submitted to the county council Cabinet / Cabinet Member in due course as part of the process for identifying new academy providers for the new schools in Grove and Wantage, but in the absence of confirmed timescales for the provision of new schools, it is not yet possible to start these processes.

New Primary School for Barton, Oxford

A sponsor has now been approved in principle for the new primary school in Barton, Oxford.

Cheney School is the sponsor approved in principle.

The new school will open in September 2019.


Outline planning permission has been granted by Oxford City Council for up to 885 new homes in the area to the north east of Oxford city between Barton and Northway. As part of the supporting infrastructure, a new primary school will be opened to serve the growing community.

On the basis of public consultation, the following are features sought for the new school:

  • a strong focus on educational excellence
  • care and support for the whole child, and for all children
  • a strong moral ethos
  • open to families of all faiths and of none.
  • innovative and strong links with the local community, acting to build links between the 'old' and 'new' Barton communities.
  • a hub for all the community to use.

Following a public consultation, which is still available to view at, Oxfordshire County Council Cabinet approved the specification for the new school on 10 Feb 2014.

You may also wish to read this supporting statement (pdf format, 173Kb) from Barton LLP, the developers of the new Barton development.

Expressions of Interest were invited from potential sponsors for the new school and then shortlisted providers were requested to submit detailed bids and attend interview.

Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Children, Education & Families ratified the county council’s preferred sponsor, and recommended this preference to the Regional Schools Commissioner, who makes the final decision. The RSC approved Cheney School as the sponsor to run the new school in principle.

New schools for Bicester

We undertook a public consultation to begin to draw together a cohesive educational strategy for both the medium and long-term future of Bicester. Significant housing is planned for the area, details of which are still available to view on the consultation webpage.

New secondary school in South West Bicester (Kingsmere development)

A specification has been approved  by OCC Cabinet Member for Children, Education and Families for a proposed new secondary school to be located on the Kingsmere housing development in SW Bicester. The school is currently expected to open in September 2019.

Expressions of interest were sought and a shortlist of 3 potential providers was drawn up. These were considered in July by the Cabinet Member for Children, Education & Families, and a recommendation was then passed to the Regional School Commissioner who made the final decision on a sponsor for the new school.

The new chosen sponsor is:

The White Horse Federation
Plymouth Street

New primary school in North West Bicester - named Gagle Brook Primary School

On 10 Feb 2014 the Oxfordshire County Council Cabinet approved the specification for a new Primary School in North West Bicester (pdf format, 133KB).

Expressions of interest were invited from potential sponsors wishing to run the new school and a shortlist of these then submitted detailed bids and attended interviews in June 2014. Following this process, a preferred recommended sponsor was identified by the county council.

The county council Cabinet approved the preferred sponsor, and the recommendation was submitted to the Department for Education (DfE) for final approval. This approval has been received and the approved sponsor for the new school is now confirmed as:

The White Horse Federation
Plymouth Street

Currently, Gagle Brook Primary School is anticipated to open in September 2018.

New primary school for Witney

A development of 1000 new homes is planned in West Witney, along with a new primary school.

The specification for the new primary school was approved on 19 May 2014 by county council Cabinet member for Children, Education and Families, following a public consultation in the Witney area. You can read the approved specification below:

The dates for the next steps in the process of opening the school will be confirmed once there is a clear timescale for the housing development.

New primary school at Longford Park, Banbury

This school is now open and is run by GLF Schools

Background information

A public consultation was held from 23 April until 15 June 2014 to hear views on proposals

View the map of the site (pdf format, 1.1Mb) which has been produced by the housing developers. Please note the county council is not responsible for this site plan or any changes to it or the layout of the development. It is shown for guidance only, and is subject to change. Copyright Taylor Wimpey plc.

Following the consultation, a specification for the new school (pdf format, 102Kb) was submitted for approval, taking the responses received into consideration. The specification went to Oxfordshire County Council Cabinet Member for Children, Education and Families (Cllr Melinda Tilley) on 14 July 2014 and was approved.

Expressions of Interest were then sought from interested sponsors to run the new school. Shortlisted proposers were asked to submit detailed proposals and attend for interview and presentations. A preferred sponsor was then ratified by OCC Cabinet Member for Children, Education and Families and this preference was expressed to the RSC. The RSC has now approved the preferred sponsor to run this school.

New primary school at Southam Road, north Banbury

Oxfordshire County Council has received Expressions of Interest (EOI) from potential sponsors interested in running the planned new primary school to the north of Banbury (on a new housing development site to the east of the A423 Southam Road). 

The next step will be for potential sponsors to submit detailed bids to OCC and then interviews will take place in the autumn.

The detailed bids will be assessed against the education specification for the new school which was approved by the county council’s Member for Education on 25 April 2017.

The key dates following this are:

Midday 4 September 2017 Detailed bids submitted by successful shortlisted sponsors
2 October 2017 Panel interviews and presentations from shortlisted sponsors
November 2017 Oxfordshire County Council indicates its preferred sponsor to the Regional Schools Commissioner
Expected  - End of 2017/Beginning of 2018 Regional Schools Commissioner makes final decision on the sponsor

The specification for the planned new school is available to view and download here (pdf format, 357Kb).

Last reviewed
22 November 2017
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