HEALTHIER canteens, cleaner air and increased places have been outlined as priorities for spending on Oxfordshire's schools.

Oxfordshire County Council's draft budget for 2020/21, which will be discussed by councillors today, outlines several aims relevant to the education sector.

Over the next 10 years, the authority plans to add an additional £50m to its capital programme to pay for the creation of extra pupil places where needed.

This will largely be funded by contributions from developers, known as Section 106 agreements, when they build new homes within the county.

The council has also expressed plans to reduce drop-offs outside schools, instead encouraging walking or cycling or at least getting parents to park further away from the gates.

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Part of its budget plan states: "The school run is known to have a major impact on air quality around schools.

"Now several Oxford schools are working with the county council on a pilot project to restrict traffic outside schools.

"The initiative follows a Friends of the Earth event hosted by the county council on Clean Air Day in June 2019, which led to several Oxfordshire schools asking to be part of the pilot."

The scheme being trialled is called School Streets, which is a traffic ban outside schools during peak times to cut pollution and congestion.

The county council has been asked to clarify which schools are taking part and how long the trial will last for.

School Streets is a campaign run by Living Streets, a national charity that encourages more people to choose walking as a means of transport, and has already been successfully introduced elsewhere in the country.

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Its chief executive Joe Irvin was made an OBE in the 2020 New Year Honours List, for his services to walking, active travel and the wider charity sector.

Also outlined in the council's budget is £200,000 to develop a 'better, more commercial business model' for school catering.

It currently provides meals in around 60 schools, accounting for about 25 per cent of the county's primary schools.

The investment would help to encourage healthier eating, the authority said.

It has also budgeted for a £30m increase in funding for children and adult social services, and an extra £1.2m to support children with special educational needs or disabilities.

Budget plans will be discussed by the council's Performance Scrutiny Committee, at a meeting at 10am today at County Hall.