Plans are being made to knock down a Victorian school site to build a “much-needed” new special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) school in an Oxfordshire town.

The Department for Education, in partnership with The Gallery Trust, is looking to develop the former Faringdon Infant School in Canada Lane, which closed in 2012,  into a “state-of-the-art” SEND school.

It is said the current site is “no longer fit for purpose” as plans for a new site are in the “early stages”.

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A planning application is expected to be submitted later this year.

Developers will hold an exhibition at the Corn Exchange in Gloucester Street in the town on Thursday, February 29 from 1pm to 7pm.

A letter sent to nearby homes, shared with the Oxford Mail, said: “There is an increasing need for SEND school places across the county, but the existing SEND schools are concentrated in or around Oxford, resulting in many unsustainable journeys.

“It is important that new facilities are built across the county to better the growing need and current shortage.

“The existing vacant buildings are not suitable for a SEND school for many reasons, including their small size, split floor levels, poor condition and poor thermal performance.

Oxford Mail: The former Faringdon Infant School site in Canada Lane The former Faringdon Infant School site in Canada Lane (Image: Google Maps)“They have reached the end of their useful life and their reuse would be uneconomical.

“Following careful consideration it is proposed to replace the buildings with an attractive purpose-design and fully accessible building.

“The new school will also incorporate the latest net-zero carbon renewable energy, on-site car parking and drop-off area, retained playing field and a more pleasant environment within which to learn.

“There will also be opportunities for the facilities to be used by the community.

“A refreshed landscape with new planting and tree management will also bring about many environmental and biodiversity enhancements.”

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Last year the Department for Education published an improvement notice it issued to Oxfordshire County Council following an Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission’s local area partnership inspection in July.

The inspection report judged that there were widespread and systemic failings in special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) services, including five areas for priority action and four areas for improvement.

The fallout led to the collapse of the council’s ruling coalition after Labour councillors quit.

The SEND partnership for the area then submitted an action plan to the Department for Education, which was officially approved by Ofsted on December 12.

Last month, an allocation of £14.4m of funding was approved for a new SEND school in Didcot.

Subject to planning permission, construction work is scheduled to begin in 2025 with a projected opening date of 2026/27.