Campaigners trying to save Culham European School’s unique multi-lingual education by opening a new “free school” have been grilled by Government officials.

The 33-year-old European Commission funded school is set to close in 2017, because too few pupils are the children of workers at the EU’s JET nuclear fusion project in Culham.

Every pupil is taught their lessons in three different European languages, and they study for the European Baccalaureate instead of GCSEs and A-levels.

Parents and supporters want the educational ethos to survive the school’s closure, and have been trying to find a way to set up a new school on the site at Culham.

Now supporters have been interviewed by Department for Education (DfE) officials over plans to open a free school, named the Europa School, on the same site next year.

Under the plans, the new school would slowly grow to replace the existing school, as it winds down to 2017.

Streering group chairman Maurizio Fantato said: “We had a good interview, and and we are now waiting to hear the outcome.

“Obviously one of the key issues is related to the financing of the project, and the Government wanted to make sure all areas had been considered.”

He said the streering group had shown the project had robust contigency plans, and would work alongside other Oxfordshire schools rather than pose a threat to them.

Places at the proposed school were already oversubscribed, he added.

But he said: “Even if we get a green light, it still means we have a few things we have to resolve over the next few months, including the issue of shared premises with the European School.

“The DfE would be behind it, but that would still need to be decided in Brussels.”

If it offered the same multi-lingual education, the new Europa School would have to do so on the finances provided by the Government, and it would have to recruit enough foreign teachers to support the curriculum.

Currently the European Commission offers generous tax breaks and working conditions to teachers seconded from across the EU, but the new free school would be unable to offer the same.

Earlier this year, an attempt to convert the European School into an academy collapsed, despite the Government spending £657,000 on the project.

Mr Fantato said he was confident enough qualified staff could be found in Oxfordshire.

He said: “The project is certainly on a much more even keel than it was when the academy was being proposed.

“I am quietly confident, but until we get a letter from the Department for Education, anything can still happen.”

If ministers back the project, the new school could get its first intake of up to 65 pupils in September 2012.

The Europa School would have a different headteacher and staff and eventually take 700 to 800 pupils aged four to 18.

The DfE are expected toreport back in September.