THE new sixth form centre on the site of a former Masonic lodge could put an North Oxford independent school on the map when it opens next month.

The multi-million pound d'Overbroeck's campus in Banbury Road has now been completed and pupils will discover an impressive blend of old and new when they arrive in September for the new academic year.

The school also has a new principal, Emma-Kate Henry, who has taken over from Sami Cohen, ready to welcome more than 500 pupils.

Sixth formers have had to use a number of different buildings across North Oxford for their studies, including Ewert Place in Summertown and the 'Swan' building in Banbury Road.

Mrs Henry, the school's first female head, said although the school was much more than just a building the move would help put d'Overbroecks on the map.

Mrs Henry said: "Schools are not about buildings they are about the people and so far I have experienced such a great atmosphere here.

"The state of the art facilities are very much forward looking and we will have all our sixth formers in one site freeing up space for our international pupils.

"In the past the school has had several sites around North Oxford. It is a school that deserves to be more well-known and we hope this new site will achieve that."

"I was at the school during the summer term and it was fantastic, I wasn't looking to move from my old school but it's just a great opportunity here."

The former Masonic Lodge has been restored and transformed into part of the sixth form centre with five science laboratories, a library and a school hall also built on the site.

The 1823 villa has remained, with an extension added on and a separate 180-seater auditorium built next to it.

Its auditorium could also be opened up to the community for concerts and other recitals in the future but will first be opened up as part of the Oxford Preservation Trust's Open Doors weekend next month.

Mrs Henry said: "We want to bring the community into the school.

"There has already been quite a lot of interest in using the hall and the building will be part of the Open Doors weekend for people to walk around.

"Of course it's for our students first of all but the hall could be used for concerts and enjoyed by the public."

Work to convert 376 Banbury Road opposite into a new boarding house, split into boys' and girls' units, has progressed and should be completed later this month.

The principal said many boarders chose to live with host families in Oxford but now had the opportunity to live at the school.

The facility for 11-16-year-olds at Leckford Place has also had an upgrade this summer and it is hoped the two parts of the school will become more linked by the new site.