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School could be first to offer education from toddlers to teens
AN OXFORD secondary school could be the first in the county to offer uninterrupted education from toddler age up to 18 years old.
St Gregory the Great School in Cricket Road is consulting on plans to change its age limit – either three to 18, or four to 18 – and to open a private nursery on site for younger children.
At the same time, the Roman Catholic school is consulting on conversion to an academy, as part of a multi-academy company linked to six Oxfordshire Catholic primaries.
The proposal is to admit 60 primary children each year, ultimately taking the 1,200-pupil school to around 1,500 pupils.
Children would not need to reapply for the secondary phase of the school once they had been through the primary years.
Oxfordshire County Council has allocated £2.6m to bringing the Cricket Road Centre, where the new classes would be housed, up to scratch to help deal with the shortage of primary places in the city.
If approved, the school – along with other members of the Dominic Barberi Catholic Multi-Academy Company subject to their own consultations – would convert to an academy in April 2013.
The first primary pupils would be admitted in September 2013.
Both consultations are running at the same time and will close on Friday. But headteacher John Hussey emphasised the two changes were not dependent on each other.
He said: “All the data shows we will need at least 60 additional places over and above what’s already been put in place with the expansion of the other schools.
“The demand is clearly there and it is an opportunity for us to provide that leadership and management expertise.”
While the primary section of the school would have separate facilities, pupils would be able to access some areas, for example science labs, at the secondary school.
About half the pupils at St Gregory’s are Catholics, with the remainder including other Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs and those with no faith.
The admissions policy would not change but Mr Hussey admitted the proportion of Catholic children at the school would be likely to increase, as a number of the feeder primary schools were oversubscribed with faith pupils. The Cricket Road Centre is owned by the county council and the Church of England Diocese of Oxford.
The site, some of which could also be used for vocational learning, would be rented.
Our Lady’s Primary, Cowley, consulted on moving to the site earlier this year but governors decided against the move.
Mr Hussey said: “The proposal to become an academy is not proving a great concern to people.
“In relation to the all-through school, the issues raised are more concerned with the detail than the overall principle.”
Oxfordshire County Council education cabinet member Melinda Tilley “We’re thrilled to bits about this. We are desperate for primary school places in the city.”
Donald McEwan, of Oxfordshire NUT, is a teacher at St John Fisher Primary School, one of those which is consulting on joining the multi-academy company.
He said: “I think it’s an excellent opportunity to provide much-needed primary places in Oxford, provided by a respected and successful existing local school. It will be welcomed by Catholic families as well as the wider community.”
THE six primaries in the Dominic Barberi Multi-Academy Company:
- Our Lady’s, Cowley
- St John Fisher, Littlemore
- Our Lady of Lourdes, Witney
- St Joseph’s, Carterton
- St Joseph’s, Thame
- St Thomas More, Kidlington
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