MORE schools could be moved and expanded to meet population growth.

Oxfordshire County Council could favour the approach, instead of just relying on housing developers to build new schools alongside housing.

All new schools are now academies, which the Department for Education has responsibility for rather than councils.

Expanding existing schools, however, does fall within the council's remit and would offer the authority more control to ensure demand for places is met.

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A county council report, discussed at a meeting last week, highlighted a need for a 'flexible approach to new schools'.

The document stated: "Large housing developments will usually require a new primary school to provide the necessary scale of additional capacity.

"A primary school at the heart of a new development is also important for the purposes of community development, and to enable children to walk or cycle to school to reduce car travel.

"[However] it can also be seen as a threat to existing schools.

"It is particularly challenging where the nearest existing school is small, but does not have sufficient site area to expand."

A 'better approach', the report said would be to relocate and expand an existing school rather than build a rival.

St Edburg's CE Primary School in Bicester was cited as a 'successful' example of this approach, which relocated to the town's new Kingsmere development in 2016 and doubled in size.

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The report added: "[This approach] is further being explored in relation to villages where the scale of housing growth would not sustain a new school, but which exceeds the capacity of the existing school to expand."

However, addressing the council's Education Scrutiny Meeting last week, a council officer said the authority would have to foot the bill rather than developers.

She said: "There's a capital deficit - if you seek to relocate an existing population on a new site, you can't make a developer pay for that."

The government oversees the creation of new schools, called free schools, but expects developers to make a contribution towards the cost of the project.

Developers also make contributions to local authorities to pay for infrastructure upgrades.

However, the council officer added: "Given the tensions and patterns we are seeing, we have been looking much harder at options, particularly for primary schools, and whether certain schools nearby [to new housing] might be suitable for relocation.

"The aim is to keep existing communities going at the same time as building a new one."

Oxfordshire is set to get 100,000 new homes by 2031.