Issue details

22/00016 - Refurbishment and reprovisioning of Science facilities at The Towers School and Sixth Form, Ashford

Proposed decision:


  1. Release an additional £450,000 from the Children’s, Young People and Education Capital budget to reconfigure and reprovision science facilities at The Towers School and Sixth Form Centre (Ashford), thus increasing the agreed allocation from £1,550,000 to £2,000,000.


  1. Authorise the Director of Education in consultation with the General Counsel to enter into any necessary contracts / agreements on behalf of the County Council.


Reason for the decision:

Agreed funding of £1,550,000 to support the addition of science classrooms at The Towers School and Sixth Form Centre is not sufficient. 

When the scheme was originally costed, extensive and intrusive surveys were not possible due to the block being occupied by pupils. When possible addition surveys were conducted,  additional asbestos was found and the internal walls were deemed unstable which has added to the project costs.

In addition, during the early phases of construction some leaks became apparent and roof survey was commissioned which has indicated that the roof requires localised repairs. To protect the refurbishment of the block, it was decided that a recovering of the roof should take place. 

The design and preparation period for the refurbishment was in the first quarter of 2021. Due to Covid, the following months have seen significant industry turmoil in securing supplies and labour as well as increased materials costs. These costs have been accounted for with the total scheme budget. However, the current inflation figures and industry predictions indicate further increases in cost that cannot be attributed directly to Covid. To offset these additional costs additional funding of £450,000 from the Children’s, Young People and Education Capital Budget is required.



In Ashford Borough secondary school rolls have risen significantly over the last 10 years. For several years, school leaders have temporally offered places above their published admissions number to support KCC in being able to allocate sufficient places for National Offer Day. 


The pressures for non-selective places in the Ashford Town non-selective planning group are particularly acute.  The latest pupil forecasts (figure 1) would suggest that there has been a slight reduction in the number of Year 7 places required from September 2022 (in comparison to the previous Commissioning Plan for Education Provision in Kent), but there will still be a significant deficit in year 7 places which has to be addressed throughout the Plan period.

Figure 1: Forecast Year 7 surplus/deficit capacity if no further action is taken (KCP 2022-26)

Planning Group Name

2020-21 Capacity

2020-21 (A)

2021-22 (F)

2022-23 (F)

2023-24 (F)

2024-25 (F)

2025-26 (F)

2026-27 (F)

2027-28 (F)

2027-28 Capacity

Ashford North Non-Selective











Ashford Selective












Options (other options considered but discarded):


Alternative options to replace the roof coverings and the internal walls were considered but were not a suitable alternative.


Reducing the scope and providing basic classrooms rather than science rooms would not be appropriate as a space need assessment conducted by KCC identified a lack of science provision which would be required to enable the school to offer additional places.


Solutions at other schools in the Borough are not possible as they have already, or will be, offering  additional places.



How the proposed decision meets the objectives of ‘Increasing Opportunities, Improving Outcomes: Kent County Council’s Strategic Statement (2015-2020)’:


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 2022-26 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:


Financial Implications:


The costs of the project have increased significantly.  This is due to the covid pandemic and redesigns that have been required following further surveys. The cost of the scheme is now £2,540,059.  The County council has agreed funding to cover increases in capital expenditure due to the pandemic.  Currently identified within the cost plan is  £540,059.62 which has been assigned to the COVID relief budget.  Due to essential redesign and additional items discovered during construction, there has been an increase in the cost plan of £391,129.16.  In recent months the construction industry has seen significant inflation on materials and labour costs, although this could be related to the outcomes of the pandemic, any increases can no longer be assigned to a separate COVID budget. Therefore, an uplift £58,870 has been requested to cover any additional issues, providing a funding ‘buffer’ should any other issues arise as the project continues. Therefore, an additional £450,000 is being requested from the Children’s, Young People and Education Capital Budget.

Decision type: Key

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

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Division affected: Ashford Rural East;

Notice of proposed decision first published: 16/02/2022

Decision due: Not before 17th Mar 2022 by Cabinet Member for Education and Skills
Reason: To allow 28 days after FED publication

Department: Education & Young People's Services

Contact: Lee Round, Governor Support Officer Email:


Cabinet Committee consultation planned: Children’s, Young People and Education Cabinet Committee 01 March 2022.

Financial implications: As above.

Legal implications: KCC as the LA 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. A funding agreement is in place between KCC and The Towers School and Sixth Form Centre which links the funding to additional school places.

Equalities implications: An Equality Impact Assessment was completed prior to the initial funding being agreed. This assessment has been reviewed. It is believed that the proposal will benefit all, including protected groups, as the additional places created will support Ashford pupils in accessing secondary school provision in the Borough. No adverse impact on protected groups have been identified at this point.