PLANS are being made for the expected increase in primary school pupils in the borough over the next decade.

By 2026, more than 20,000 houses will be built in Swindon which will mean more than a dozen new schools will be needed.

Although local authorities have a legal obligation to provide places, the only real way of securing funding for a new building is through the free school system.

Swindon Borough Council is looking to find organisations to submit bids to run new schools.

A meeting was held in November which has been described as very positive and while exact details are not known, two bids are expected next month.

If they do come forward, they will be at the Tadpole Farm, alongside the recently opened Tadpole Farm Academy and Wichelstowe housing developments and will each provide 60 places.

Over the coming years, most of the new housing developments will see at least one school built, with the 8,000 homes at Eastern Villages seeing five.

While bringing in so many schools is an ambitious target, council chiefs say failing to meet it is not an option.

Councillor Fionuala Foley (Con, Chiseldon and Lawn), the cabinet member for children's services, said: "We will do it because we have to. We are legally obliged to provide school places so we will do it.

"Swindon has a good record of making sure we have the places so it will happen.

"When you look at the developments, they have space for schools."

The meeting in November saw around 40 potential free school and academy sponsored come to Swindon to meet up with officers to find out about they could work with the council.

"It was a very productive event with a positive outcome," said Coun Foley.

"We know what is needed so it is about getting ahead and showing what Swindon has to offer.

"We showed them the education strategy for Swindon which many were impressed by."

A report has been produced for Wednesday’s cabinet meeting which also outlines the need for secondary provision.

Although demand for places is on the increase, the immediate need for places has been addressed with last year’s announcement that two free bids had been successful.

One, run by New College, will be located in North Swindon while the other will be run by the Diocese of Bristol Academies Trust and be based in Wichelstowe.

A third will eventually be needed to cope with the housing built with the Eastern Villages. This will need to accommodate around 100 pupils.