The Cabinet Member for Education and Skills is asked to:
a) Authorise the allocation of £1,242,960 from the Children Young People and Education Services Basic Need Capital Budget to fund a temporary expansion of Mascalls Academy, by increasing the number of Year 7 places offered in September 2022 and September 2023 from 240 to 300 places.
b) authorise the Director of Infrastructure, Strategic and Corporate Services in consultation with the General Counsel and Director of Education to enter into any necessary contracts/ agreements on behalf of the County Council with the Leigh Academies Trust.
c) Authorise the Director of Infrastructure, Strategic and Corporate Services to be the nominated Authority Representative within the relevant agreements and to enter into variations as envisaged under the contracts.
Reason for Decision:
Kent County Council (KCC), as the Local Authority (LA), has a statutory duty to ensure sufficient school places are available. The County Council’s Commissioning Plan for Education Provision in Kent 2020-24 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 plan can be viewed from this link:
The Commissioning Plan forecasts for the Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells Non-Selective Planning Group indicate that there will be sufficient places at the start and end of the Plan period, but there will be a 50 place deficit in 2022-23 and 36 deficit in 2023-24. These deficits will require up to 60 temporary places to be offered via existing secondary schools.
Mascalls is a co-educational comprehensive school for students of 11-18 years that converted to academy status in July 2011 and is now part of the Leigh Academies Trust. The school was rated ‘Good’ by Ofsted at its November 2016 short inspection. Mascalls provides a broad range of educational opportunities for all students regardless of their ability or background and aims to help them develop their potential to the full. The school has excellent ICT and sports facilities and in 2006 a brand-new building, providing state-of-the-art accommodation for Design and Technology, Art, Drama, Dance and Music was opened.
The school and Leigh Academies Trust are keen to expand the school and welcome the opportunity to temporarily expand for 2 years. Future housing development in the area is likely to necessitate a permanent expansion of the school in the longer-term future.
Following discussion regarding the accommodation needs of the school, KCC agreed with the Leigh Academies Trust that, should this proposal go ahead, it will be a school managed scheme, with KCC providing the Basic Need funding and the Trust undertaking the necessary capital works. The Trust regularly undertakes capital work relating to expansion and maintenance of its schools and has the organisational infrastructure to manage such schemes.
There are limited options for expansion of the schools within the Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells Non-Selective Planning Group; the majority of the schools have been expanded within the past few years and for other temporary expansions would not be cost effective. On balance, the proposed temporary expansion of Mascalls Academy offers a relatively low-cost option in a location where there is demand generated by new housing developments.
How the proposed decision meets the objectives of ‘Increasing Opportunities, Improving Outcomes: Kent County Council’s Strategic Statement (2015-2020)’
The provision of sufficient school places is a statutory duty and contributes to the Strategic Business Plan Priorities to ensure that “Children and Young People in Kent get the best start in life”.
Decision type: Key
Reason Key: Expenditure or savings of more than £1m;
Decision status: For Determination
Notice of proposed decision first published: 04/02/2021
Decision due: Not before 5th Mar 2021 by Cabinet Member for Education and Skills
Reason: To enable the decision to be on the FED for a minimum of 28 days.
Lead member: Cabinet Member for Education and Skills
Lead director: David Adams
Department: Education & Young People's Services
Contact: Nick Abrahams, Area Education Officer – West Kent Tel: 03000 410058 Email: Nicholas.Abrahams@kent.gov.uk.
Financial implications: Capital Funding: Initial feasibility work by the Trust has estimated the cost of delivery to be £1,242,960. It is proposed that it will be a school managed scheme. KCC will provide the allocated Basic Need Funding, in return for the school providing the necessary accommodation and resources to meet the temporary increased Year 7 intake from 240 to 300 places for 2 years. The roles and responsibility of each party will be formally set out through a legal contract between KCC and the Trust. KCC will monitor progress regularly during the building works to ensure that the accommodation needs are being met. Revenue Funding: Should the scheme progress, £6,000 per new learning space would be provided towards the cost of furniture and equipment. This would be provided to the school to purchase required equipment. In addition, an allowance of up to £2500 may be payable to outfit each new teaching room with appropriate ICT equipment, such as touch screens or projection equipment. The sch
Legal implications: The expansion will be subject to a legally binding and enforceable contract being in place between KCC and Leigh Academies Trust.
Equalities implications: An Equality Impact Assessment (EqIA) has been produced and no issues were identified in the early stage EqIA, but the assessment will be reviewed as the project continues.