A NEW free school with a Christian ethos could open in Headington to help relieve pressure on existing schools.

But it is feared the proposed Headington Community School could add to traffic jams in the area if it goes ahead.

The free school would be run by the Chapel St group, which already has seven schools across the country including Tyndale Community School in William Morris Close, Temple Cowley.

The group said if Headington Community School was given permission to open it would start teaching primary age children in September 2018 and would focus on “high levels of academic achievement”.

But city councillor for Headington Quarry and Northway, Roy Darke, said he was worried the school’s Christian ethos would attract parents from a big catchment area who would then have to drive their children to class.

He said: “I think Oxford City Council would have to look very carefully as a planning authority at that.

“What we took into the inquiry about Tyndale Community School was that 70 per cent of parents brought their car.

“Headington is possibly one of the most congested areas in the city.

“I think there is a need for school places in the community but as a Labour councillor I have some concerns about free schools.

“What the government is doing is taking them out of any control apart from the body that runs them, which has a lot of autonomy over the curriculum.”

No site has yet been proposed for the school, which would offer breakfast and after-school clubs.

Chapel St said that the school’s Christian ethos would not exclude pupils who are not of that faith and that religion would not be a criteria of admission.

Chief executive Dr Russell Rook said the group felt there was a demand for school places in Headington that a new free school could fill.

Free schools are state-funded schools independent of local authorities and are governed by non-profit charitable trusts.

Dr Rook said: “If a new school is needed in an area it needs to come from the free school programme.

“The cost will come from central government and hopefully it will serve kids and families for a generation.

“Tyndale has been very successful. The community seems to love it and families seem to love it.

“We can share resources and build connections between the schools – that is why it made sense to have another in a similar area.”

The school is consulting in Headington before it puts in an official bid.

Dr Rook said Chapel St would take concerns about transport and infrastructure into account.

He said: “In Tyndale, all kinds of people are involved and we want to build the same sort of community support and partnership around this. .

“There is a consultation process that we do in the run-up to bidding, which we want people to fill in. Then once the bid has arrived, God willing, there is a formal consultation that looks at site and travel plans and the impact on the green environment.

To take part in the consultation, see headingtoncs.com.