'RIGOROUS' plans to create a raft of school places before pupil numbers spike are starting to become reality.

Crunch time is looming for Oxfordshire County Council to deliver much-needed new schools and expansions, and several have come to fruition this term.

This month 420-pupil Aureus Primary School in Didcot opened its younger years and nursery.

Lorraine Lindsay-Gale, the council's new cabinet member for education, said she was 'very impressed with the enthusiasm and ambition' at the school following a visit last week.

She said: "It is no accident that so many parents and pupils get their first choice school in Oxfordshire, even though pupil and population numbers are rising.

"We all know that it is such an important time for families when children move from primary to secondary school.

"Our dedicated teams work in a rigorous way to plan future school places overall for the county and also targeting particular areas where the need is forecast to be greatest."

According to the council's predictions published in 2017, there will be a 5.2 per cent rise in primary pupil numbers in Oxfordshire by 2021, and a 19.4 per cent rise in secondary school pupils.

Aureus Primary School and neighbouring secondary the Aureus School, which opened last year, are both academies run by the GLF trust.

Although academies are not directly managed by the county council, it remains responsible for pupil place planning.

Another major expansion was seen at Faringdon Community College, which reopened after summer with a new building allowing for an extra 300 pupils.

The building boasts 17 classrooms, two business study rooms, three science labs, two drama studios and a cafe.

Gagle Brook Primary School in Bicester also opened this month, following a two-year delay.

The council is also involved in plans to open new primary schools in Wantage, Witney, Oxford and Banbury, plus another primary school and secondary school in Bicester, and a new special school in North Oxfordshire.

It also refreshed its commitment to a new Oxford secondary school - currently in the form of the Swan School in Marston - and a new special school in North Oxfordshire.

This year, 93 per cent of primary pupils gained their first choice school in Oxfordshire and 89 per cent of secondary pupils.

According to Department for Education figures released last month, there were 7,947 admissions to state secondary schools in Oxfordshire between August 2017 and October 2017.

Of these there were 155 appeals, of which 88 progressed to a ruling, and 37 of these were decided in the parents' favour.

Though the percentage of successful appeals has risen compared to the same data from a decade ago, the number of appeals lodged has plummeted.

During the same 2017 period for primary schools, there were 9,174 admissions and 135 appeals, of which 23 were successful.

The number of primary school appeals lodged has also been slashed in the past decade.

County council spokesman Paul Smith said: "In any year there will be a small number of appeals, some of which will be successful.

"However, overall, the picture as regards schools admissions in Oxfordshire is positive when compared to the rest of the country and the council plans ahead rigorously in terms of school place planning."