Local politicians have ordered a rethink on a new Oxford academy because of concerns over the lack of consultation with parents and locals and the potential impact on other schools.
Oxford School is in the National Challenge scheme because of low GCSE results. Admissions are dwindling and there have been difficulties recruiting and retaining the best teachers.
The local county council wants to make it an academy and officials were set to go ahead with a feasibility study. But councillors have asked to examine the decision again, saying the plans are unclear and alternatives should be considered.
The feasibility study would have identified the costs of a new school building, which could include classrooms for primary children, to cope with the demand for places in the city.
Exam results at Oxford School are expected to improve this year after teachers received help from experts to improve standards, but there is still a surplus of more than 200 places because parents choose other secondaries.
A replacement academy would be sponsored by United Learning Trust and Oxfordshire County Council. It would specialise in English and business and enterprise.
Council officers believe Oxford School has one of the biggest intakes of poor pupils in the country, basing their estimates on the number of parents who claim tax credits.
Twice as many pupils are eligible for free school meals compared with other schools. KM.