Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council

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Cabinet Decision: 6th October 2016
Title of Item/Report
An Investment Strategy for Schools, Special Education Needs and Early Years
Record of the Decision
Consideration was given to a report on the investment strategy for Schools Special Education Need and Early Years. Members were aware that the Council received notification that it would receive £31m for capital allocation in recognition of shortages in school places in various parts of the Borough. Whilst the allocation is to support the increase in capacity, it was un-ring-fenced and therefore there was an option to spend some of the allocation to other areas within education. This allocation would be received in 2018/19 and in order to ensure sufficient time for detailed planning, this report outlined the proposed Strategy for investing in Schools, Early Years and Special Education Needs (SEN).

The Council had already invested approximately £30m to increase capacity in its schools through Basic Need Grant and capital receipts from disposing of surplus sites. This was in addition to working with a number of secondary schools to secure funding for building replacement schools.

Whilst the focus was on capacity, there was also the potential to use some of the money to invest in schools where condition needs to be improved, given that the allocation was un-ring-fenced and the Council could re-designate the capital receipts referred to above and potentially utilise the Section 106 contributions.

This strategy outlined developments required in areas other than Primary and focusses on Secondary schools, pre-school, and SEN provision.

In addition, the Government’s commitment to create an additional 500 new free schools by 2020 opens up the potential that providers would come forward to provide new free schools within the borough which would be funded by the Education Funding Agency (EFA).

There were also some existing and potential Section 106 contributions associated with new housing development which would support development.

There was a significant opportunity to develop an investment plan to ensure that the capacity of our schools was appropriate for the needs of the Borough and also potential to address some key condition and suitability issues.

Member were provided with details of an analysis that had been undertaken of the requirements for additional Secondary School places by area and a desk top exercise to determine which schools could be developed / expanded to meet demand had been carried out. Whilst parental choice would remain an issue, for planning purposes the Council needed to focus on the strategy that we will provide a place within 3 miles of each child’s home. Details were also provided of secondary school suitability and sustainability and potentials areas for investment.

The Council had a shortage of nursery provision across the Borough, and this had been exacerbated by the Government’s policy to increase the offer to 3 and 4 year olds to 30 hours per week.

In addition, it was vital that the Council ensured that the take up of the 30 hours offer does not impact on the sufficiency of places for 2 year olds. The Government had charged LA’s with the responsibility of maintaining a high level of access for 2 year olds alongside maximising take up of the 30 hour offer. This would require constant monitoring and the facility to be pro-active in ensuring sufficient capacity exists to meet demand.

The Government had provided the Council with an estimate of 1,560 eligible 3 & 4 year olds, however early calculations show that this figure was likely to be higher. In addition, the recent consultation exercise shows that this would increase as parents of young children, who were currently not working, enter the labour market and require the additional hours.

The areas of the Borough where there were shortages were provided and plans were being developed to address these pressures.

The Government had announced a funding programme which allows 4 bids of up to £1m each to be submitted and detailed bids had been submitted. Based on the areas of need and the sites explored, the buildings being examined for development as part of the overall set of proposals were:

• Crooksbarn Primary
• Priors Mill Primary
• St Marks CE Primary
• High Flyers Children’s Centre

The bids needed match funding of 25% and therefore would need £1m allocating. Work was ongoing assessing additional requirements across the Borough and there could be some additional work required to develop further places. This could however link to the Children’s Centre Review and also the review of SEN outlined below.

A review of SEN was currently underway looking at special school provision, Additional Resource Provision (ARP) at schools and considering what was required moving forward. This could potentially link with some of the school developments and also provide space to support nursery provision.

There was also significant interest in the development of new SEN free schools from a variety of Multi Academy Trusts (MATs). These were likely to be sub regional facilities, and may not be located in Stockton. Our approach would therefore be to support their development, as any new schools would be assessed and funded wholly by EFA.

The Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) operated from the former City Learning Centre (CLC) and technology block at Marsh House Avenue, and a leased building close to Stockton Town Centre. This building was at the end of its lease and was not fit for purpose and there was a desire to co-locate all provision onto one site.

This would require some modest investment to re-configure the current facilities at the former CLC and extend to build 2 or 3 additional teaching spaces.

The site was close to the new Post 16 Skills Academy which was operated by Stockton Riverside College. The college were working with the Head of the PRU to examine how they could work closer and share facilities and this could lead to wider opportunities of shared use of space, development of vocational provision etc.

RESOLVED that:-

1. The Strategy be approved.

2. A further report be presented to Cabinet following development of detailed plans.
Reasons for the Decision
To ensure that all children and young people in Stockton continue to benefit from education in high quality environments.
Alternative Options Considered and Rejected
None
Declared (Cabinet Member) Conflicts of Interest
Councillor Bob Cook declared a personal non prejudicial interest in Agenda Item 5 - An Investment Strategy for Schools, Special Educational Needs and Early Years as he was a school governor at Norton and Billingham South Primary Schools.

Councillor Steve Nelson declared a personal non prejudicial interest in Agenda Item 5 - An Investment Strategy for Schools, Special Educational Needs and Early Years as he was a school governor at Frederick Nattrass Primary School and he has grandchildren who attended both Frederick Nattrass Primary School and Northshore Academy.

Councillor Norma Wilburn declared a personal non prejudicial interest in Agenda Item 5 - An Investment Strategy for Schools, Special Educational Needs and Early Years as she was a school governor at Stockton Riverside College.
Details of any Dispensations
N/A
Date and Time by which Call In must be executed
Midnight, 14th October 2016
Attachment

Date of Publication: 10 October 2016


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