Decision Maker: Cabinet Member for Education and Skills
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: Yes
Is subject to call in?: Yes
Release £1,550,000 from the Children, Young People and Education Capital budget secure additional Year 7 places at The Towers School and Sixth Form Centre, Ashford.
Reason for the decision:
The pressure for non-selective places in the Ashford North non-selective planning group is particularly acute with additional places being required for several years.
The addition of science classrooms at The Towers School and Sixth Form Centre will enable the School to accommodate an additional classes of Year 7 pupils as and when required and will support the need for additional secondary places in the Borough.
In Ashford Borough, Year 7 rolls have risen from 1,290 pupils in 2010-11 (the last low point) to 1,651 in 2020-21, an increase of 361 places or 12FE. For the last three years we have managed to ensure every child was offered a local school places because schools have supported KCC by offering places above their published admissions numbers.
The Towers School and Sixth Form Centre has a PAN of 243. For the last two years (2019-20 and 2020-21) they have agreed to offer 270 places as of National Offer Day. To continue to be able to offer 270 places as and when required by KCC, the school will require additional specialist science facilities. These additional science facilities can be achieved via the reconfiguration of their present science facilities in addition to the conversion of adjacent classrooms.
In addition to being able to support KCC by admitting additional Year 7 pupils, this scheme will enable the School to permanently release to KCC two existing classrooms in a standalone block to create a special school satellite). These will used to provide facilities for 24 Wyvern School sixth form students, increasing the number of special school places in Ashford. The satellite will give Wyvern students the opportunity to join mainstream lessons with the support of Wyvern staff and take further steps towards an independent adulthood.
Options (other options considered but discarded)
All secondary schools in Ashford Borough have been admitting additional pupils on a temporary or permanent basis. The option of expanding each of the non-selective schools in the Borough has been explored and further proposals may need to be brought forward. This proposal is considered the best option as not only do the additional places offer good value for money, but they also offer the opportunity for additional special school places.
Allocating places outside of Ashford Borough where surplus places for 2021-22 and onwards may be available has been considered but discounted as all districts will be under pressure.
How the proposed decision meets the objectives of ‘Increasing Opportunities, Improving Outcomes: Kent County Council’s Strategic Statement (2015-2020)’
The decision will help to secure the additional high quality secondary school places and special school places that are required.
As Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, I agree to:
a) Release £1,550,000 from the Children, Young People and Education Capital budget to enable The Towers School and Sixth Form Centre, Ashford to accommodate additional pupils.
b) Delegate authority to the Director of Infrastructure to take necessary actions, including but not limited to entering into necessary contracts or taking other legal actions as required to implement the decision, in consultation with the Director of Education and the General Counsel.
Publication date: 19/03/2021
Date of decision: 19/03/2021
Effective from: 27/03/2021