Decision Maker: Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Education
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: Yes
Is subject to call in?: Yes
The Cabinet member for Children, Young People and Education will propose a new process to ensure key decisions would be made at a time when robust information is available. This includes costs, deliverability, and timescales in addition to the greater understanding of risk associated with each scheme. Any potential reputational risks to KCC should reduce. Implementation dates can be set with greater certainty, reducing situations where the school and KCC are required to admit pupils ahead of the buildings being available. Importantly schemes which become poor value for money due to high abnormal costs can be reconsidered before KCC is legally committed via a public notice.
The current CYPE Basic Need Programme consists of 79 projects across primary, secondary and special schools ranging from bulge years and expansions through to completely new schools. The current total value of the programme is £302.1m over the period 2018-2021.
The programme has, over the past seven years, been managed such that any cost pressures have been contained within the budget approved by County Council. In order to manage this budget effectively a programme management approach has been adopted which involves CYPE, Infrastructure and GEN2. The present approval process for capital projects can lead to budgets being set at a stage when full cost details are unavailable. This can create a situation where some schemes are delivered at a lower cost than originally anticipated, some are withdrawn for a variety of reasons, and others become more expensive as design and planning stages proceed.
Currently, using the mandate of the approved KCP, officers move individual school organisation proposals forward. Initial feasibility work is carried out to move from an identified pressure, i.e. 1FE within a particular planning area to a proposed solution. Depending upon the point in the annual cycle that this information becomes available, the next iteration of the KCP may name the intended scheme. The proposal next moves to public consultation. This is led by KCC if it relates to a maintained school, or by the trust if an academy or free school. The outcome of consultations, together with estimated capital costs derived from the initial feasibility study, are reported to CYPE Cabinet Committee. The Cabinet Committee’s views on the proposal are then considered by the Cabinet Member for CYPE, who decides whether to progress the scheme. In the case of maintained schools this results in a statutory public consultation being issued in the form of a public notice, and in the case of an academy/free school, a decision to make the capital funds available, subject to any decision needed from the Secretary of State. It is this part of the process we recommend is amended.
The current arrangements result in a decision being made, and public notice issued, based on a high-level budget estimate and an early assessment of timescales for delivery. When the statutory public notice is issued, a “complete proposal” is also produced and published in line with the requirements of Regulations. This sets out the County Council’s commitment to make the funding available to deliver the scheme, and sets the implementation date. The risks of a scheme running over-budget and over-time are significantly greater at this point, than if the key decision was made later in the process.
Implementing a revised decision-making process, will ensure that key decisions are made at a time when robust information is available. This includes costs, deliverability, and timescales in addition to the greater understanding of risk associated with each scheme. Any potential reputational risks to KCC should reduce. Implementation dates can be set with greater certainty, reducing situations where the school and KCC are required to admit pupils ahead of the buildings being available. Importantly schemes which become poor value for money due to high abnormal costs can be reconsidered before KCC is legally committed via a public notice.
The reasons for needing to adjust the budget allocations for the schemes above will be reported to CYPE Cabinet Committee, and these have been taken in to account in the final decision.
As Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Education,I agree to:
1. Revise the approval process for school organisation proposals.
2. Reallocate monies within the CYPE capital programme as follows:
a) Wilmington Academy - allocate a further £2m (original decision number 16/00033(e))
b) Wilmington Grammar School for Girls - allocate a further £2.8m (original decision number 16/00033(d))
c) St John’s Catholic Primary School, Gravesend - allocate a further £2.2m (original decision number 16/00055)
d) Seal CE Primary School, Sevenoaks – allocate a further £1.72m (original decision number 15/00093(b))
e) Trinity School, Sevenoaks - allocate a further £1m (original decision number 18/00006)
f) Craylands Primary School, Dartford – allocate a further £0.55m (original decision number 15/00093(g))
g) Harrietsham CEPS – allocate a further £0.6m (original decision number 17/00100)
h) The Judd School – allocate £0.4m (original decision number 18/00019)
i) Bennett Memorial Diocesan School - allocate a further £1m (original decision number 17/00104)
j) St Gregory’s Catholic School - allocate a further £0.8m (original decision number 17/00106)
k) St Peter’s CEPS, Tunbridge Wells – allocate a further £1.0m (original decision number 18/00020)
l) Chilmington Green PS, Ashford – allocate a further £1.2m (original decision number 17/00056)
m) River Mill, Dartford Northern Gateway – allocate £1.9m (new decision)
Publication date: 04/06/2019
Date of decision: 04/06/2019
Effective from: 12/06/2019