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.
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:
- Undertake a public consultation to identify the academy model to be implemented.
- Invite initial expressions of interest in running the school.
- 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.
- 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.
- Submit preferred sponsor choice to the Regional Schools Commissioner for decision.
- 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 education.gov.uk 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.
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.
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.
- September 2016 – GEMS Didcot Primary Academy (first primary school) opens
Sponsors of this school are
- September 2017 – Aureus School (secondary school)
Sponsors of this school are
- September 2018 – Aureus Primary School (second primary school) opens
Sponsors of this school are who will run this school and Aureus School as one all-age school on split sites
Grove and Wantage schools
The Vale Academy Trust has been given provisional approval by the Department for Education to open an all-through (primary and secondary) school as the first phase of new school delivery on Grove Airfield. The current target date for opening is 2021. This is dependent on the progress of the associated housing development. Longer term, another new primary school will be needed on the Airfield site.
New primary school in NE Wantage
A development of 1500 new homes is planned in NE Wantage, on the Kingsgrove housing development (formerly Crab Hill) along with a new primary school. The school is currently due to open in 2020.
The expressions of interest period for academy sponsors interested in running this school ended in July 2018. Shortlisted sponsors have been given until Winter 2018 to now present detailed bids.
Further details of the school can be found in the specification (pdf format, 436Kb)
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 2020.
New schools for Bicester
New secondary school in South West Bicester (Kingsmere development)
A sponsor has now been approved in principle for the new secondary school in South West Bicester as part of the Kingsmere development, due to open in 2019.
The White Horse Federation is the sponsor approved in principle.
New primary school in North West Bicester - named Gagle Brook Primary School
A new primary school will open in North West Bicester, the first of up to four primary schools and a secondary school which will be needed to serve this development. The school is due to open in 2018, sponsored by the White Horse Federation.
New primary school at Graven Hill, Bicester
A new primary school is also planned for the Graven Hill development in Bicester, currently expected to open in 2021.
The specification for the new primary school was approved on 19 September 2018 by the county council Cabinet member for Education and Cultural Services, following a public consultation which ran from 13 June to 24 July 2018.
Expressions of interest are now sought from academy sponsors interested in running this school. Details are provided in the education specification below. Applications should be submitted using the Expressions of Interest form below.
Expressions of interest must be submitted by midday on 29 October 2018.
New primary school for Witney
A development of 1000 new homes is planned in West Witney, along with a new primary school. The school is currently due to open in 2020.
The expressions of interest period for academy sponsors interested in running this school ended in May 2018. Shortlisted sponsors have been given until Autumn 2018 to now present detailed bids.
Further details of the school can be found in the specification below
New primary school at Southam Road, north Banbury
A sponsor has now been approved in principle for the new primary school in Banbury as part of the Southam Road development, due to open in 2020.
GLF is the sponsor approved in principle.
The Swan School, Oxford
This is a new secondary school proposed for Oxford through the government's "Free School" route. The school is intended to open in 2019, but planning permission has not yet been granted (September 2018). Therefore, there is no confirmation that the school will open in September 2019 as planned.
Parents should refer to the website for The Swan School for the latest information.
It will be possible to apply for a place at the school (register interest) for Year 7 in September 2019 via the school's website until 31 October 2018, but not through the council's admission process.
However, places will only be allocated if it is confirmed the school will open. If you are applying for a place at The Swan School, it is vital that a secondary school transfer application for a place at one of the existing secondary schools in Oxfordshire is made as well, in case the school is unable to open for 2019.