A special school has been renamed ahead of a £9.5m rebuilding project.

Northfield School in Blackbird Leys has become The Orion Academy, according to a document published on Ofsted’s website last week.

It has been taken on by The Gallery Trust, the document confirms, which runs other special schools including The Iffley Academy in Oxford.

Northfield was previously an Oxfordshire County Council-run school and the authority committed to redeveloping it following major concerns about the building, including a problem with asbestos.

It proposed closing the school but, following backlash from the community, instead decided to demolish the building in Knights Road and replace it.

Ofsted rated Northfield ‘inadequate’ in November 2018, forcing it to become an academy outside of council control.

A monitoring report from the watchdog, published in April, said ‘effective action’ was being taken to address the concerns.


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The redevelopment will see the number of spaces at the school increase to 108, and the hope is that building work will be complete by September 2021.

Currently there are 50 boys on roll, aged 10-18.

The county council has now uploaded a planning application for the site on its website, detailing specific proposals.

The application states: “The current Northfield School buildings are in a poor state of repair and not fit for purpose as a modern SEND [special needs and disabilities] facility.

“The development would enable the construction of new school accommodation designed specifically to meet the needs of current and future pupils at Northfield School and facilitate the provision of additional school places, responding to high demand for special educational needs places within Oxfordshire.”

The construction would be phased so the school can continue operating in the meantime, and pupils will transfer to the new building once it is ready.

The old building will then be demolished.


Source: Oxford Mail