Clarification of Oxford Mail story

Paul James, CEO of RLT, has just issued this to prospective Swan parents….

The Oxford Mail is today running a story about secondary school places in Oxfordshire.
The story carries critical comments from a local Liberal Democrat politician of the way that the Department for Education has implemented the free school scheme in the county.
As you would expect, we disagree with elements of the criticism.
One aspect of the story that may worry you, as someone who has applied for their child to attend The Swan School next year, is the suggestion that there is doubt over whether the school will open in September.
It was also reported that secondary schools in the city are having to plan to take on extra pupils in the event of The Swan not opening.
We said in a statement that this was technically the case, but I would like to reassure parents that the delays in the DfE formally approving the school are, as I said to the Mail, technical and to do with the formal process.
The situation is that when we receive official confirmation from Oxford City Council of the planning permission that it granted last month (as there is always a delay between a planning committee decision and a formal planning permission approval) then work on building the new school at Marston will start.
We expect the formal go-ahead to be received from the city council soon.
As you probably know, a planning application is also about to be submitted for The Swan’s temporary accommodation at The Cherwell School.
Only after this application is approved by the city planning committee, and then a formal planning permission approval issued, can the DfE officially say that The Swan will open.
In any case, as we have said throughout the process, on March 1st 2019 (National Offer Day for secondary school applications) you may be offered a place at The Swan School and you will definitely be offered a place at an existing school by Oxfordshire County Council.
At this point we will know more about the timing of the decisions being made around planning permission and we will provide clear guidance to parents about the process involved in choosing a place at your preferred school from the choices you have.
We appreciate that this is not ideal, but you should be reassured that it is just the way these things work and other new schools have opened in similar circumstances.
I hope this puts your mind at rest, but should you have any queries, do please contact the River Learning Trust office at [email protected]