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Full steam ahead for studio school

Construction work on a new type of secondary school for Bicester will begin this month as planned following two key approvals.

Planning consent for Bicester Technology Studio, previously granted by Cherwell District Council, was upheld today (2 October) by the National Planning Casework Unit. The unit had been asked to review the decision following an objection by Sport England.

The backing comes a week after the proposals to open the new school received the final funding agreement from the Department for Education. This is the last stage of the consultation and approvals process for opening new schools in England.

Lee Nicholls, executive director at Activate Learning, which is the school’s lead sponsor, said: “We are now full steam ahead to open Bicester Technology Studio in September 2016. Construction work will begin next month as planned and we are looking forward to meeting potential students and their parents at our taster events in October.”

The 310-place school will be built on land at Queens Avenue, adjacent to The Bicester School. It will provide students aged 14 to 19 with a core curriculum of GCSEs and A-levels alongside vocational specialisms in sustainable technologies and logistics.

Sport England had previously lodged an objection to the planning application over concerns that the new school would result in the loss of land used for playing fields. An assessment by Oxfordshire County Council found that the amount of land available to the two schools was sufficient for the number of pupils and that the proposed location of Bicester Technology Studio was on a corner of the site not used for sports activities.

With full approval now in place, the new school is taking applications from potential students. Students will join in Year 10 or Year 12, with 40 places available for Year 10 students and 70 places for Year 12 students in the first year. It will eventually grow to cater for 310 students.

Two taster events, designed to help students and their parents find out more and apply, are being held in October. They will be held at the John Paul II Centre at The Causeway, Bicester, on Wednesday 7 and 14 October from 6-8pm. Find out more and book online.

Bicester Technology Studio will be run with the support of industry partners including A2Dominon, Brita, Chiltern Railways, RED Engineering, Zeta Specialist Lighting, Bioregional and Willmott Dixon. These partners will shape the curriculum, set projects and provide mentoring and work experience.

In June the school appointed its first principal, Richard Brown, who is currently a director of The Langley Academy in Slough.