To receive a report by the Corporate Director for Education and Young People’s Services that sets out the allocation of capital funding to a number of school projects and seeks the Cabinet Committee support for approval by the Cabinet Member for Education and Health Reform for these Capital Programme projects.
(Mr Cowan made a declaration of interest as he is a foster parent of a child that attends one of the schools)
1. The Area Education Officer, South Kent, Mr Adams, and the Director of Education Planning and Access, Mr Abbott, introduced a report that sets out the allocation of capital funding to a number of school projects and sought the Cabinet Committees support for the proposed decisions to be taken by the Cabinet Member for Education and Health Reform for various Capital Programme projects.
2. Mr Adams, Mrs White and Mr Abbott, responded to questions by Members which included the following:
· Mrs White advised that the Highways works at Tunstall CE Primary School would commence in 23 July. This would include further works to culverts, highways lighting and a road crossing. The abnormal costs [a building term for costs outside the normal budget] entail the drainage works and foundation works for the school. Mrs White advised that the contractors were currently on site and the expected completion date was 16 March 2016 [included in the contract].
· Mr Adams advised that there were significant capital pressures within the budgets and addressing the local community’s needs that came with those expansions, such as perception on traffic and congestion, added to those pressures. The Highways Authority was a consultee in the school expansion process and had a view on what would need to happen to allow a development to be considered suitable, sustainable and deliverable. Those requirements had to be factored into the budget.
Mr Adams explained that a piece of work was being carried out, with colleagues in Growth, Environment and Transport Directorate, looking at all school estates to identify which schools could be expanded and what issues there might be in terms of physical infrastructure etc in achieving the expansions. This work would identify where highways works were required, so these could be costed in at an earlier stage, and be factored into requests for developer contributions where appropriate.
· Mr Adams agreed to look at the issue of funding for highways improvements at Green Park Community Primary School, Dover and discuss the matter with Mr Cowan.
3. RESOLVED that:-
(a) the responses to questions by Members be noted; and
(b) the Education and Young People’s Services Cabinet Committee endorsed the decision to be taken by the Cabinet Member for Education and Health Reform to approve the following capital projects, and allocate funding, from the Education and Young People’s Services Capital Budget, of the following amounts in order that the proposals may go ahead:
a. A further £2.3m for Tunstall CE Primary School, Swale.
b. A further £2.2m for Kings Hill Academy, Tonbridge & Malling.
c. £9m to the rebuild and expansion of Portal House School, Dover.
d. £1.4m to the expansion of Green Park Primary School, Dover.
e. £6m to the building of Finberry School, Ashford.
f. £2.5m to the expansion of The Judd School, Tonbridge & Malling.
(ii) To expand Portal House School by 20 places from 1 September ... view the full minutes text for item 80
1. Mrs White and Mr Shovelton introduced the report and explained that the reason for the proposed expansion was the demand for school places. Unfortunately there was insufficient room to expand at the current site and relocation was therefore required. The response to the consultation had been largely positive, but strong objections had been raised.
2. In discussion, Members made the following comments:-
a) an objection on planning grounds was raised to the proposed relocation of the school;
b) in response to a question about the need for expansion and the site chosen for it, Mrs White explained that, to address Sittingbourne’s growing population, a feasibility study into expanding several local schools was carried out. Sites at Eden Park and Stones Farm had previously been considered, but then pupil numbers had not justified the County Council purchasing either of these. As well as being too small to accommodate the necessary expansion, the current Tunstall School site was in the shared ownership of the Diocesan office and a local landowner. There was currently pressure on school places in South Sittingbourne, and although Westlands had recently expanded, it had not been possible to expand at Rodmersham, due to objections from the Governors of the school. A possible site for the expansion of Tunstall School had been the playing field at Fulston Manor School. A feasibility study had been undertaken but had not progressed as the site was compromised in terms of highway access (sharing the Ruins Barn Road with Kent Science Park) and the County Council would have had to purchase the land;
c) a comment was made that it was good that south Sittingbourne schools were filling their own school places rather than drawing children from north Sittingbourne. The fact that a village would be retaining its own school was supported by several speakers;
d) in response to a question about the likely outcome, if the expansion were not to go ahead, Mrs White explained that the school was likely to have to reduce to ½FE. This would put pressure on other schools in the area which were already full, and a school operating at ½FE would be vulnerable. Mr Leeson added that schools taking ½FE had historically had problems delivering a curriculum and had to federate themselves to remain viable;
e) concern was expressed that the expansion of Tunstall school would attract children to it from other areas of Sittingbourne; and
f) one Member, who had taken part in the consultation, reassured the Committee that the Strategy Group on which he had served had been involved in public meetings in 2013 at which the ideas and options had been examined.
3. The recommendations in the report were then put to the vote and it was RESOLVED that:-
a) the Education Cabinet Committee endorse the decision proposed to be taken by the Cabinet Member for Education and Health Reform, to issue a public notice to relocate and expand Tunstall CE Primary School by 210 places, from 1FE ... view the full minutes text for item 167