WORK has started on a £1.5million project to refurbish a special needs school in Oxfordshire that will enable it to provide 16 more pupil places.

Bardwell School in Bicester, for pupils aged 2-19, is set to get brand new facilities, fully funded by Oxfordshire County Council.

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It comes as the county faces a problem with not having enough provision for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), as 191 children in the county are in schools outside Oxfordshire.

Due to significant housing growth in Cherwell, Bicester has been identified as an area of need for more special school places.

The Bardwell School revamp will include a new build extension which will have a hall with storage for PE and dining resources; a kitchen with storage and staff toilet/changing; a withdrawal room; and circulation with an accessible toilet.

Refurbishments will be made to the existing hall for it to be used as a life-skills classroom, the existing kitchen will be remodelled into a food technology room and the existing food technology room will turn into a hygiene room.

Two former classrooms (currently used as a withdrawal room and a life-skills room) will revert to being used as classrooms, once the new build is complete in September, creating the additional 16 places required.

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County Councillor Lorraine Lindsay-Gale, cabinet member for education and cultural services, said: “This exciting project at Bardwell School is part of our overall capital investment to increase special school places in the county.

“We are committed to providing first class education for every local child and young person.”

Interim headteacher Matthew Selsdon says changes to the school will 'significantly change' the secondary playground on the site.

He said: "This playground is a very important area for our children with SEN to thrive, build relationships and improve physical and mental health and well being.

"On completion of the build the outside space will comprise of areas of concrete, tar mac and small patches of grass. This area will not be accessible to many pupils including those with physical disabilities."

The county council recognise these changes and have offered to fund part of the project, but to ensure the playground is completed to a high standard, Bardwell needs a further £60,000.

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Bicester resident Sarah Stevenson, who has a child that attends the school, has therefore started an online fundraiser so that people can donate.

To donate, go to

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