Oxfordshire County Council has a statutory duty to ensure sufficient school places, whether through academies, free schools, or maintained schools, described as the "basic need".
Government funding for school places is mainly through annual “Basic Need” allocations. These are based on data collected from local authorities in the annual School Capacity Survey (SCAP). This collects information on the capacities of schools in each planning area (as shown in the council’s Pupil Place Plan), and local authorities’ forecasts of pupil numbers for several years ahead. Special schools are not included.
Basic Need funding is allocated on the basis of a comparison of forecast mainstream pupil numbers with mainstream school capacity in each planning area, with shortfalls in capacity attracting funding. Adjustments are made to account for school places for which central government funding has already been provided, including through free schools, or which will be funded from developer contributions, where they are not yet fully reflected by the data collected through SCAP.
The council has a ten-year Capital Programme which covers a wide range of projects and programmes and shows a balanced position as recommended by best practice. When the external environment is changing rapidly, the policy framework is evolving and the economic outlook is uncertain, it is important to have a flexible approach to investment decisions. Therefore, only the first two years of the programme are considered as 'the firm capital programme'. The figures for the years after these first two years are a draft and constitute the “provisional” part of the capital programme. The capital programme includes annual investment of approximately £40m in the school estate in Oxfordshire.
Additional government funding for school places is sometimes made available through ad hoc bidding rounds or grants. Details of any current bidding rounds will be detailed below