Green light for new primary school in Didcot

The proposal for a two-form-entry Academy will address a growing school age population as the town’s Great Western Park development takes shape. It also represents the first new mainstream school created by the authority for more than a decade.

The school, which will be run by academy provider GEMS, will open in 2016 and eventually accommodate up to 420 pupils, taking in up to 60 Reception-age pupils a year. It will be built on a site within the western section of the development.

In approving the application on Monday 20 October, the council’s Planning and Regulation Committee also ruled that a school travel plan should be submitted ahead of the opening of the school, to encourage sustainable forms of transport to and from the school.

Significant milestone

Councillor Melinda Tilley, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Children, Education and Families, said: “This is a hugely significant milestone in the on-going development of Didcot and will ensure all children needing a school place can be educated locally. Aside from the recently created Free Schools, this will be the first brand new mainstream school established in Oxfordshire since 2003, when Hanwell Fields in Banbury and Madley Brook in Witney were opened.”

Jodie King, from GEMS Learning Trust, said: “The GEMS Learning Trust is delighted that the plans have been approved. The new school building will provide wonderful spaces for children to learn in different ways, and we look forward to sharing the plans with prospective parents and pupils in the coming months.”

Creation of new schools

The 2011 Education Act says that all new schools are expected to be academies, which means they are independent of the local authority, but the county council remains responsible for planning and securing sufficient school places – including negotiating sites and funding for new schools.