When It Happens Panel Get involved: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting 'OXFORD NEWS' to 80360 or email
Two free schools to open in Oxfordshire
Parents were celebrating last night after the Government approved two free schools in Oxfordshire.
Tyndale Community School for children in East Oxford and Heyford Park Free School, in Upper Heyford, could both open in September 2013.
But plans to create a free school at the Harwell Science Campus were yesterday turned down for the second time by the Department for Education.
The Government’s free school plans offer parents, teachers, charities, trusts, religious and voluntary groups funds to set up their own schools.
The Tyndale Community School will see 60 primary pupils from the Blackbird Leys, Cowley and East Oxford area join each year until 2019. A location for the free school has not yet been agreed and, along with teachers and a principal, will be decided upon within months. But already parents of about 50 children have said they will make the school their first choice.
The plan was brought by Chapel St Community Schools Trust in partnership with Oxford Community Church, part of Oxfordshire Community Churches.
Oxfordshire Community Churches runs The King’s School in Witney and Chapel St is set to open a free school in Greater Manchester in September.
Chapel St spokesman Janet Miles said: “We want it to be a school of excellence in terms of academic status and a place that invests in the life of the child, their family and community around them.”
She said the school would be open to all faith and non-faith groups, any parent could apply and the curriculum would not include creationist teaching.
Meanwhile, an £11.6m free school at a former US Cold War air base in Upper Heyford, near Bicester, was also approved.
Heyford Park Free School, housed in the Grade II listed former officers’ mess building, will take a total of 840 pupils from age four to 19 by 2019.
It will also be open to youngsters from Bicester and the surrounding area.
A total of 1,017 applications were made for a place at the school when plans were unveiled.
The Heyford plans were pushed through by The Heyfordian School Trust, made up of parents, residents, local educational specialists, businesses and Heyford Park owner the Dorchester Group.
Trust governor Nathan Jones said: “It’s a fantastic step forward for the local area and an important milestone for Heyford Park.”
At the moment primary school-aged children from Heyford are taken to either Tackley or Fritwell schools, and secondary school pupils travel to Bicester Community College or Marlborough School in Woodstock.
Former chairman of Heyford Park Residents’ Association Patricia Kirby said: “It’s absolutely fantastic. It will make such a huge difference to the community.”
Mother-of-two Pam Cameron, who lives in Bicester and has signed up her two children, Chauni, nine, and Xander, five, to the school, said the all-through system gave “continuity” to pupils and a chance for parents to help shape their children’s education.
She said: “We can’t wait to see it open.”
However, an application from The New Oxfordshire Schools Trust to open a free school at the Harwell Science Campus was turned down.
The group was hoping to set up the Harwell Enterprise Academy specialising in science and engineering for up to 800 pupils.