THE county’s schools chief has stepped in to promise that a £4.4m project to provide a new sixth form in Bicester is safe, despite looming budget cuts.

Michael Waine, Oxfordshire County Council cabinet member for schools improvement, said the project to extend The Cooper School, which has 918 pupils, will go ahead next month as planned.

Councillors are expected to look again at hundreds of projects in the council’s £500m capital programme after a warning from Prime Minister David Cameron that the country’s finances were in bad shape.

Cuts imposed by Chancellor George Osbourne are expected to include local authority grants.

If the county’s grant is slashed schemes to improve roads, schools and community facilities could be shelved or delayed.

Bicester projects facing review include the library and refurbishment of the fire station.

But Mr Waine said: “Building work at The Cooper School is starting within a matter of weeks, so that programme is as safe as houses as far as I’m concerned.

“The decision to build has gone ahead and is not in any danger at all.”

Earlier this year plans for the zero carbon building at the school were approved, and work is due to start during the summer.

The county council is funding the majority of the project, but a Government grant of £600,000 has been awarded to make the building environmentally friendly — with solar panels and low energy fittings.

It will cater for 185 students, and will include classrooms, computer facilities, a common room, study areas and a café.

Headteacher Ben Baxter said: “The school has had several meetings over the last few weeks with various bodies representing both the county council and building contractors.

“We have no indication that anything has changed and as far as we are aware building work will commence shortly before the school breaks for the summer holidays in July.”

Currently 16-year-olds must carry on their education at Bicester Community College or travel outside the town.

The two secondary schools, Bardwell School and Oxford and Cherwell Valley College work closely to provide academic and vocational courses.