TEN new Oxfordshire schools are on track to open in the next four years, but there are fears that bureaucratic bungling will threaten the schedule.

The saga with Oxford's new Swan School, which is finally due to open in September after being fraught with delays, has left councillors sceptical about the delivery of other much-needed schools.

  • Scroll down for the list of schools

Speaking at a meeting, councillor John Howson said he was keen that the 'shambolic' delays that threatened the Marston secondary school were not replicated.

All new schools are a type of academy called free schools, delivered by a government agency called the ESFA.

While councils still have control of making sure there are enough school places in their patch, and can still expand existing schools, they are no longer responsible for building new schools.

Speaking at the same Oxfordshire County Council meeting the week before last, councillor Michael Waine called for the authority to regain this ability.

ALSO READ: Oxfordshire set for 29 new schools - but critics warn of delays

He said: "This area [of new schools] need to be looked at seriously and immediately so that new schools can be put in place according to plan, rather than being sidelined because of regulations coming in, which is what we faced with the Swan School.

"I'm fearful it will come into action again with other schools - we wouldn't want to see it replicated for ourselves or any other local authority."

Much of the Swan School delay was due to the ESFA struggling to find a suitable location in time.

As many of the forthcoming schools are already being built as part of new housing developments, hopefully that will not be such an issue.

Council officer Allyson Milward confirmed to the council's education scrutiny committee that all 10 schools, which include the Swan, are currently on track to open by 2023.

Due to the delays, the council had to run a dual applications process this year, allocating places for Swan School applicants plus back-up places at existing schools should it fall through.

ALSO READ: Raft of new school places created in Oxfordshire

Parents spoke to the Oxford Mail in March of the 'farcical' offers their children faced if the Swan failed, in schools

almost 13 miles away in Abingdon and Witney.

Ms Milward said a lot of families had left it 'right up until the last minute' to confirm their child's secondary school offer, due to the ESFA only confirming the Swan School's funding deal weeks before the deadline, and that she had colleagues 'up at midnight' the night before to ensure places were allocated.

She told councillors: "It has been very difficult for families.

"The very nature of this process meant parents taking all sorts of judgements about which way to put preferences to maximise their chances.

"There have been some very funny preference patterns this year."

Builders moved onto the Swan School site off Marston Ferry Road in February, but the building

will not be ready in time for pupils starting in September.

Instead, for at least a year, children will be based in temporary buildings at The Cherwell School's South Site, just down the road.

The temporary buildings were due to be delivered at the weekend.

Ms Milward said: "We have agreed as officers ways to stay in touch with the ESFA, to monitor the whole [Swan School] building project and construction."

The ESFA's annual report published in July stated: "The ESFA continues to work closely with the Department [for Education] to deliver the Free Schools Programme.

"As of 31 March 2018, 474 free schools, university technical colleges (UTCs) and studio schools were open [nationally], 55 of which opened in 2017-18.

"The programme continues to approve and build new free schools where they are most needed."

The 10 schools are:

- The Swan School in Oxford, September 2019, run by the River Learning Trust

- Whitelands Academy in Bicester, September 2020, run by the White Horse Federation

- Barton West Primary School, September 2020, run by Community Schools Academy Trust

- Primary school north of Southam Road, Banbury, September 2020, run by GLF Schools

- Kingsgrove Primary School at Crab Hill, Wantage, September 2020, trust TBC

- Bloxham Grove special school near Banbury, September 2020, run by the Gallery Trust

- Windrush CE Primary School, Witney, September 2021, trust TBC

- Graven Hill Primary School, Bicester, September 2021, trust TBC

- New special school in Didcot, September 2022, trust TBC

- All-through school at Grove Airfield, September 2023, run by the Vale Academy Trust

There are dozens more schools in the pipeline beyond 2023, but they are mostly dependent on new developments.