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Planners give studio school the green light

Plans for a new type of secondary school in Bicester have been given the go-ahead.
 
A meeting of Cherwell District Council’s planning committee yesterday (September 3) approved plans for Bicester Technology Studio.
 
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.
 
The curriculum is being designed with the support of industry partners to help meet local skills and employment needs.
 
 
With planning permission now granted, work on the new facility will start in October, subject to final approval from the Secretary of State.  The school is scheduled to open in September 2016.
 
Cllr Michael Gibbard, Cherwell’s lead member for planning, said: “Studio schools offer a genuine alternative to more traditional academic learning by providing an emphasis on vocational opportunities through apprenticeships and a focus on practical workplace skills. With Bicester’s population set to increase over the coming years, it is important we make suitable provision to accommodate the various needs, requirements and academic interests of the future generations.
 
“The studio school will be under the same management as the The Bicester School and be based within its grounds. This will provide a central point of education for Bicester and ensure the two establishments work together to offer the necessary diversity, skills and qualifications to ensure Bicester meets the academic and vocational needs of the future.”
 
Lee Nicholls, executive director at Activate Learning, which is the school’s lead sponsor, said: “Planning consent is a major milestone in the development of Bicester Technology Studio, as we seek to broaden the educational choice available to young people in Bicester and the surrounding area.
 
“This new school building has been designed to reflect its specialisms in sustainable technology, providing students with a bright, business-like and engaging learning environment. We look forward to starting work on site and to recruiting the first students who will join us in September.”
 
Students will join Bicester Technology Studio in Year 10 or Year 12. The school will have capacity for 310 students, but in its first year will take 40 students in Year 10 and 70 in Year 12.
 
A series of taster events, designed to help students and their parents find out more and apply, are being held during the autumn term. They will be held at the John Paul II Centre at The Causeway, Bicester, on 23 September, 7 and 14 October from 6-8pm. 
 
Bicester Technology Studio’s industry partners include 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.