MORE than 200 parents have supported plans to built a new free school in Oxford for secondary pupils after a series of consultation events.

As reported in the Oxford Mail, teachers from a free school in West London are leading the bid, which if successful could see the school open in the city in 2017.

The London school was co-founded by journalist Toby Young, best known for his book How to Lose Friends and Alienate People.

Calling themselves Powerful Education, the teachers and parents say Oxford City Free School will have an emphasis on grammar and languages for pupils aged 11-18.

Since the plans were announced in March, the group has held consultation events across the city to gauge reaction.

Spokeswoman Sara Fernandez said: “We see our goal of opening an excellent school in 2017 as part of a wider effort by many agencies to improve the overall provision in Oxford.

“This means we must act collaboratively, and not in a vacuum. With that in mind, we are also reaching out to the leaders of other schoolsand asking for their input to shape the project before we submit the application.”

She said: “We have spoken to families across the city and the response to the project continues to be overwhelmingly positive.

“Over 200 parents of children in Years 3 and 4 have already said yes to the Oxford City Free School. Such a strong level of support makes it more likely our application will be successful.”

The final consultation event, at South Oxford Community Centre in Lake Street on May 9, saw parents ask questions on the curriculum and possible sites.

Miss Fernandez said the group would submit an application to the Department for Education at the end of this month. She said: “We can’t rest on our laurels and we want to double the amount of sign-ups during the next four weeks.

“We are delighted with the reaction to our proposal.

Most people feel Oxford needs a new secondary school and are very positive about our combination of an academic ethos with a comprehensive intake.”

If the bid is successful, the group will work with Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council to find a location for the school.

Miss Fernandez said it would be where there was currently little school provision, adding that meant it was unlikely to be in north or east Oxford.

She added: “Everyone wants to know where the school will be located, which is understandable.

“With input from Oxfordshire County Council, we have identified a number of promising sites within the city, but no further action is permitted until the application is approved.”

The school’s entry would not be limited to a catchment area though, she said.

Oxfordshire County Council cabinet member for children, education and families Melinda Tilley said Powerful Education needed to consider parental interests and space for the building before setting up the free school.

She added: “I think it sounds like a brilliant idea and I would support it. There’s a long way to go now and it’s not our decision, it’s the Department for Education’s decision.”

Oxfordshire already has three free schools – Tyndale Community School in Cowley, Europa School in Culham, and Heyford Park Free School in Upper Heyford – but this would be the first secondary-only school.