CHILDREN who were moved out of a special school in Blackbird Leys will be back in by September, according to a senior county councillor.

Parents and pupils attending Northfield School protested with staff to retain and refurbish it, despite Oxfordshire County Council asking whether it should be shut for good last month.

An online petition against the plan gained 3,350 signatures in less than three weeks.

But yesterday cabinet member for public health and education, Hilary Hibbert-Biles, said she had met pupils and parents on Monday to tell them refurbishment work should be complete by the end of the summer holidays.

The work will stop short of being a full refurbishment, she said, but the council must ensure that it is safe.

The school has been subject of a host of maintenance problems, including asbestos being found earlier this year.

Mrs Hibbert-Biles said: "I don’t want children going back into a building that is not safe. These children can go back into the building when it is safe."

Any planned consultation over the building could be undertaken at a later date, if at all, she told a council meeting yesterday.

Last month the council's cabinet resolved to undertake a consultation over what should happen to the school – which could have ended with it being closed by the end of the year.