New schools and more school places in Oxfordshire as council carefully plans for the future

A new 420 place primary school in Didcot which opened at the start of the new school term represents part of the latest expansion of school places in Oxfordshire reflecting the county council’s ongoing rigorous forecasting and planning for future school place needs.

The Aureus Primary School also has a nursery having been designed and built by Kier Construction with funding from secured by the county council from developers Taylor Wimpey, linked to housing developments in the area. The school will be run by GLF who already run other academies in the county.

Oxfordshire has maintained its position in terms of being better than national averages for giving parents their first choice of school for children moving from primary to secondary despite increases in pupil numbers.

Aureus Primary School is an Academy – and although academies are not directly maintained by the county council, local government retains a key role in pupil place planning, selecting the academy trust which will run the school and overseeing the provision of new schools and school extensions.

Important for families

Councillor Lorraine Lindsay-Gale, Cabinet Member for Education, visited the new school recently. She said: “It is no accident that so many parents and pupils get their first choice of school in Oxfordshire even though pupil and population numbers are rising. We all know that it is such an important time for families when children move from primary to secondary school.

“Our dedicated teams work in a rigorous way to plan future school places overall for the county and also targeting particular areas where the need is forecast to be greatest.

“The council’s capital programme is planned years in advance to take account of necessary spend. It is a system that delivers the right outcome for parents and one that is embedded in the way the council works.

“I enjoyed my visit to Aureus Primary School. I wish the school all the best for the future and having met the headteacher, staff and pupils I was very impressed with the enthusiasm and ambition that clearly exists at the school. It is a very welcome addition to life in Didcot and the educational landscape in Oxfordshire.”

Excellent record

Elsewhere in the county, Faringdon Community College re-opened for the new school year with a new building comprising 17 classrooms, 2 Business Study rooms , 3 Science Labs, 2 Drama Studios and a cafe allowing the school to expand by 300 places to meet the growing demand for pupil places in this area of the County. This expansion programme was managed by the council and also included the brand new Gagle Brook Primary School in Bicester which has been delivered by the county council and will be run by the White Horse Federation to serve the new Elmsbrook development.

Hannah Wilson, Executive Headteacher at Aureus School and Aureus Primary School, said: “We are very excited to have opened Aureus Primary School’s doors to our Nursery, Reception, Year 1&2 pupils. As sibling schools, in the GLF trust, our Aureus Schools will eventually educate 1600+ children from 2-16. Our extended team will continue to work hard to meet the needs of our families in partnership with the local community.”

Councillor Lindsay-Gale added: “Right the way across Oxfordshire there is evidence this September of the way we are planning for coming years. Future years will see yet more school expansions and new openings when and where they are needed. That is the way we maintain our excellent record of giving the vast majority of parents and pupils their first choice of secondary school.

In the next three years the council aims to open new primary schools in Wantage, Witney, Oxford and Banbury as well as a new primary and secondary school in Bicester to support new and growing communities. The council is also committed to working with education partners to deliver another secondary school in Oxford and a special school in the north of the county.

Aureus School and Aureus Primary School are sibling STEAM schools, with a shared vision for a holistic, values-based education. STEAM is an educational approach to learning that uses Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics as access points for guiding student inquiry, dialogue, and critical thinking.