(Report by Mr P Leeson, Corporate Director for Education, Learning and Skills)
1. The Cabinet Committee considered a report on the mid year review that detailed the progress made in implementing the Kent Commissioning Plan for Education 2012-17 since its adoption by Cabinet in September 2012.
2. Mr Leeson noted the comments and responded to questions which included the following:-
a) Mr Leeson advised that there was a commitment for a 5%-7% surplus capacity in any planning area. However, it was not expected that this could be achieved in every smaller locality within an area. This meant becoming better in using local intelligence and responding to parental preference in the planning process through the Commissioning Plan. The Plan would be updated on an annual basis and a mid year review. This highlighted where there were pressures and Thanet was experiencing real pressures and was one of the more challenging parts of Kent. The inward and outward migration was something that the LA did not know enough about. There were continued discussions with Headteachers who were the first to know of the parental pressures for additional places.
b) Mr Leeson suggested the term “mobile classroom” be replaced with the term “modular build” to move away from the idea of poorly built structures.
c) Mr Leeson advised that the LA did not always require permanent expansions especially when there was a temporary bulge in a particular year. Mr Shovelton highlighted 3 key areas from the review of the 5 year Commissioning Plan which were 1.That all of the additional school places that had been committed to had been created for September 2013; 2. The levels of accuracy in forecasting were good; and 3. One of the positive impacts of having enough sufficient surplus places supported the needs of parental preference. Mr Shovelton explained that the figures in the table referred to on Page 194 were current figures from March 2013. The school expansions in Thanet would adjust those figures and the percentage would rise. Additional school places would still need to be created in the Thanet area. The impact of having a medium to long term plan would reduce the need to put in modular buildings. Mr Leeson concluded that successful commissioning relied on ongoing discussions with districts councils and planners to make accurate forecasts. The district councils welcomed the plan which informed their planning process in terms of educational need and the financial contributions expected to come from developers towards putting in additional educational capacity.
d) The Chairman added that a report on the consultations on the relocation of some special schools would be submitted to the Education Cabinet Committee at its September meeting.
e) Mr Leeson advised that there was significant movement in Dover in terms of educational quality with 80% of primary schools in Dover being good or outstanding. However, this was not the case for the secondary school options for parents in the Dover district where significant improvement was required. This would be carried out though the targets set out in the Commissioning Plan.
3. RESOLVED that:-
a) the responses to comments and questions by Members and the report be noted; and
b) a report on the consultations on the relocation of some special schools be submitted to the Education Cabinet Committee at its September meeting.