Issue details

21/00020 - The Towers School - additional Year 7 places

Proposed decision:

 

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.

Background

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.

Decision type: Key

Reason Key: Expenditure or savings of more than £1m;

Decision status: For Determination

Division affected: Ashford Rural East; Ashford Rural West;

Notice of proposed decision first published: 04/02/2021

Decision due: Not before 5th Mar 2021 by Cabinet Member for Education and Skills

Lead member: Cabinet Member for Education and Skills

Lead director: David Adams

Contact: Lee Round, Governor Support Officer 03000412309 Email: lee.round@kent.gov.uk.

Financial implications: A feasibility study has been completed. The refurbishment and conversion of the existing facilities would in in the region of £1,550,000 or £11,481 per place. This is a significant saving against the KCC benchmark rates which for new builds ranges between £16,277 (20th centile) and £20,933 (80th centile) and for rebuilds and refurbishments at £17,455 and £24,945 respectively. Developer contributions totalling £720,000 have been agreed toward the project so far.

Legal implications: Kent County Council (KCC) as the Local Authority has a duty to ensure sufficient school places are available. If this decision does not take place there will be a risk that we cannot meet our statutory duties to provide education provision. KCC will enter into a legal agreement with The Governing Body of The Towers School and Sixth Form Centre which links the funding to a guarantee of additional school places.

Equalities implications: An Equality Impact Assessment has been completed. No adverse impact on protected groups have been identified at this point.