Decision details

24/00024 - Expansion of Leigh Academy, Green Street Green Rd, Dartford DA1 1RB

Decision Maker: Cabinet Member for Education and Skills

Decision status: Recommendations Approved (subject to call-in)

Is Key decision?: Yes

Is subject to call in?: Yes


Reason for the decision


This proposal to expand Leigh Academy has been developed because the Kent Commissioning Plan 2024/28 indicates that there will be a shortfall in year 7 places in the Dartford and Swanley non-selective planning group.


To support KCC to mitigate against this shortfall, Leigh Academy agreed to increase its PAN from 240 to offer 270 places for September 2023, September 2024 and September 2025.


Following further discussions, Leigh Academy agreed to offer 300 places from 2026, subject to a physical expansion. This proposal seeks to facilitate the expansion by building a standalone block, and to enable various internal and external works.  The Trust, senior leadership team and governors of Leigh Academy agreed to consult on this proposal to permanently expand the school and enlarge the secondary provision within the school by the addition of 60 places per school year.


Leigh Academy, part of the Leigh Academy Trust (LAT), is a co-ed secondary school.  Following an inspection that took place in April 2023, Ofsted deems Leigh Academy to be a ‘GOOD’ school.



A decision is required now to allow internal modifications to Leigh existing building to be undertaken, which will allow the school to continue to admit an increased cohort from September 2024 and to begin work on external areas of the site.  The funding will also allow KCC to enter into a contract to undertake the requisite feasibility studies and design work for the main scheme to produce a new standalone block on site.  A separate decision will be taken by the Cabinet Member in due course to agree the overall funding of the scheme.  The estimated costs are explained below.


If no further action is taken in the longer term, Kent County Council will find it extremely difficult to provide sufficient secondary school places in the Dartford and Swanley non-selective planning group.




Dartford Borough’s population is increasing with more families moving into the area and as a result, Kent County Council needs to add additional secondary school places to manage the increase in demand. One strategy for providing additional school places is to expand existing successful and popular schools.


The 2FE expansion is to be facilitated by internal alterations to the existing main school building, along with construction of a new teaching block at the front of the site to provide the level of accommodation required in accordance with BB103.  The existing tennis courts will be relocated to facilitate the construction of the new standalone block.  These internal and external works will be undertaken by LAT and the funding for the works will be passported to LAT from the CYPE Capital Budget, subject to a binding funding agreement being signed.  KCC will directly deliver the standalone block and related Highways mitigations, should they be required.


In order to accommodate the ongoing 2FE expansion, Leigh Academy have committed to an increased PAN in September 2024 (in line with September 2023), however this increased PAN requires an initial phase of internal alteration works to be undertaken to facilitate an increase in pupil numbers.


Any works undertaken by the Academy are to be overseen by the appointed KCC Consultant team.


Securing Kent’s Future


The 'Securing Kent's Future' strategy outlines the measures that KCC intend to take to ensure that Kent remains financially stable, now and long into the future.  It describes the statutory priorities, one of which being the statutory duty to ensure sufficient school places are available to any child or young person who requires one.  This duty applies to Special Educational Needs (SEN) provision, as well as mainstream settings.


This proposal is necessary for KCC to continue to deliver the statutory duty, in a cost-effective way, in line with the guidelines described in the Securing Kent's Future strategy. It will help to maintain KCC’s strategic role in supporting schools in Kent to deliver accessible, high quality education provision for all families.


The County Council’s Commissioning Plan for Education Provision in Kent 2024-28 is a five-year rolling plan which is updated annually.  It sets out KCC’s future plans as Strategic Commissioner of Education Provision across all types and phases of education in Kent. A copy of the latest plan can be viewed from this link:



Financial Implications




The total cost of the expansion is estimated to be £10.5m, including both KCC and LAT spend which is to be allocated from the CYPE Capital Budget.   This sum has been included within the Basic Need Capital Programme that was recently agreed by Council. KCC will investigate whether other funding sources can be accessed, such as Community Infrastructure Levy, once full costs are known.


An allowance of up to £2,500 may be payable to the school, to outfit each new teaching room with appropriate ICT equipment, such as touch screens or projection equipment.  This will be met from the overall Capital allocation for this project.


Should the scheme not proceed through to completion, any costs incurred at the time of cessation would become abortive costs and are likely to be recharged to Revenue. This would be reported through the regular financial monitoring reports to Cabinet.




The school would also receive funding for the additional pupils that it admits in line with the funding allocated to schools through KCC’s Schools Funding Formula.


As the scheme progresses, £6,000 per newly created learning space, would be provided towards the cost of furniture and equipment, such as tables, desks, chairs, cabinets and learning resources.


Both of these revenue allocations will be met from the Growth Funding provision held within the dedicated school's grant.




The school will appoint additional staff as required; utilising revenue funding allocated through the Schools Funding Formula for these additional pupils.


As Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, I agree to:


I.          APPROVE the expansion of Leigh Academy by 2FE,


II.         AGREE to allocate £425,000, subject to a binding funding agreement, from the CYPE Capital Budget to the Leigh Academy Trust (LAT), to:


a.            enable design work for the essential internal and external works


b.            enable LAT to undertake essential internal modification works, during 2024.


III.        AGREE to allocate £975,000 from the CYPE Capital Budget, to enable KCC to undertake feasibility checks, design, plan, cost and tender for the project to construct      a new standalone block, from June 2024


IV.       DELEGATE authority to the Director of Infrastructure to, in consultation with the   Director of Education, enter into any necessary contracts or other legal agreements,           as required to implement this decision; and


V.          AGREE for the Director of Infrastructure to be the nominated Authority        Representative within the relevant agreements, with authority to enter variations as envisaged under the contracts.

Publication date: 10/07/2024

Date of decision: 10/07/2024

Date comes into force if not called in: 18/07/2024

Call-in deadline date: 17/07/2024

Current call-in Count: 0

Accompanying Documents: