So here we have it : expansion of existing schools in Oxford City and Oxfordshire (“Free School Free-For-All” : March 20) could be “sited” to the need for places and facilities.
Yet the new Swan Free School, with a potential roll of 1200-1400 places, to be built on the Harlow Centre site in Old Marston, is only just down the road from its parent school, The Cherwell School, current roll 1890.
This confirms Cllr Ian Hudspeth’s fears that new schools – and all new schools have to be free schools –could be clustered in the same area and therefore fail to be located where new schools are actually needed.
Paul James, CEO of The River Learning Trust, mother and father of the Swan-to-be and of the Cherwell, told a recent public meeting in Old Marston that the proximity of the Swan to the Cherwell will not be a “catchment” problem.
“Pull the other one” comes to mind. The County Council has estimated that an expansion budget of £18m would meet the rising demand for school places in Oxford City between now and 2022; the Swan development, funded by the Education Funding Agency, will cost between £25-£35m.
The Swan will be a very expensive and destructive folly and should be abandoned now, before it goes to planning. Is anybody in Whitehall listening?