PARENTS have spoken out about being left in limbo after their children's school was branded 'unsafe' and forced to adopt a significantly reduced timetable.

Northfield School in Blackbird Leys, which teaches boys with special educational needs aged 11 to 18, has had to shut its main building and move into temporary classrooms due to concerns about asbestos and other maintenance problems.

Pupils in years 6-10 returning from the Easter break this week have had their hours cut to only two or three days a week while year 11s, who are gearing up to take GCSEs this summer, still have a full timetable.

Mum Nicky Longton, whose son is in year 9 at the school, said he was now spending the rest of the time playing computer games in his bedroom.

She said the school is sending 'educational packs' for pupils to work on at home but is worried her son's education will suffer from the disruption.

No other school in the city were willing to accept her son, who has high functioning autism and ADHD, leaving her feeling she has no choice but to wait for the issues to be resolved.

Ms Longton added: "He is falling further behind and I am worried about the impact all this is going to have on his education.

"I have trouble trying to get him to school anyway and for him to be off so much is definitely not a good thing."

The school has been plagued with problems since the start of the academic year and has had to close at short notice on several occasions.

It is hoping to return to a full timetable as soon as possible but this may involve moving some pupils to an alternative site.

Another parent, who asked not to be named, said that many of the pupils with autism were suffering from the lack of stability and regular routine which was having an impact on their behaviour.

She said she was concerned for the parents of younger children who were having to find specialist cover or rely on family to help on the days the school is closed.

Specialist contractors have repaired an asbestos roof and made the area safe but an Oxfordshire County Council assessment of the buildings concluded they were no longer a 'suitable learning environment.'

Spokesman Owen Morton said problems include repair and maintenance issues, concerns about the layout, size and shape of classrooms and that areas of the school where asbestos is present could be vulnerable to further damage.

He added: "The council is working closely with the school to identify a longer-term solution to ensure all pupils can return to a full-time timetable as swiftly as possible and that disruption to learning can be kept to a minimum.

"This is likely to involve lessons taking place at alternative sites for at least some pupils, and we are looking at a wide range of potential options to achieve this."