Oxford Needs The Swan School
Oxford Needs The Swan School
Oxford City is facing a secondary school places crisis. Existing schools are full to capacity and have accepted additional students in recent years as a short term emergency measure. The government's Education Funding Authority reviewed 30 sites across Oxford and last year decided upon a site in Marston to build Oxford's brand new secondary school (the first built since the 60's) - The Swan School.
In a shock decision on 5th Sept, the City Council's Planning Committee went against the advice from the Planning and Education experts and voted against the plans for the school building (a majority of 4 Councillors to 3 voted against). The main reasons being it was building on the green belt and the school entrance cuts across the cycle track on the Marston Ferry Rd. Although we all agree it is a shame to have to build on green belt land, Natural England and the Environment Agency approved the plans after their review. Further, the Oxford City planning officers decided that although they recognised the impact on the green belt - the urgent need for school places outweighed these concerns.
We are avid cyclists and use the cycle track on the MFR - some of us have older children who cycle there daily to Cherwell school. So we have studied the proposed plans carefully to satisfy ourselves that the measures to ensure safety are satisfactory. These include cyclists retain right of way at all times, staff cannot enter the site in cars after 8am, only those with authorisation can enter by car (eg disabled staff/students). The Swan day is timed to run 9.15 - 4.45 in order not to clash with Cherwell. They also plan to use a warden during busy times and a barrier will be in place so the vehicle entrance will be completely closed during Cherwell and Swan start and end times. We are satisfied that these measures will ensure safety for all and cause less interference than the existing cut-through at the Summertown end of the cycle path into Cherwell South site and playing fields. We believe any minor inconvenience of the new arrangements is outweighed by the need for local school places.
This decision to reject the plans was made with no Plan b as to where our children will go to school. Currently some Marston children are being bussed to schools in Cowley and Blackbird Leys, as Cherwell and Cheney Schools are full. This problem is only set to worsen in coming years as predictions show a surge of secondary starters in 2019 (the year the Swan is due to open) and another even greater surge in 2021 (current Year 4 pupils) - by which point they literally may not have an Oxford secondary school place to go to as it is predicted an additional 144 places will be needed. Although Marston and Jericho are most heavily affected, all Oxford city schools feel the impact of the squeeze.
We have a chance to get this decision overturned by the Planning Review Committee on the 15th October. Please sign this petition so we can show Oxford City Council how much local families want and need this new secondary school in Oxford.
Thanks - from a group of Marston families