Issue details

22/00055 - Proposed Expansion of Maidstone Grammar School for Girls

Proposed decision

The Cabinet Member for Education and Skills is asked to:

 

a)         enlarge Maidstone Grammar School for Girls, Buckland Road, Maidstone, Kent, ME16 0SF by 1FE, increasing the Published Admission Number (PAN) from 180 to 210 from September 2023.

 

b)         authorise the allocation of £5.23 million in funding from the Children Young People and Education Services Basic Need Capital Budget to fund the permanent expansion of Maidstone Grammar School for Girls.

 

c)         authorise the allocation of £1.6 million from the Education Modernisation Programme to enable the replacement of T Block and N Block.

 

d)         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.

 

e)         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.

 

Background

Kent County Council (KCC), with support from the school’s Governing Body, would like to expand Maidstone Grammar School for Girls to help provide more places for local children. 

 

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:

https://www.kent.gov.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/131486/Commissioning-Plan-for-Education-Provision-in-Kent-2022-to-2026.pdf

 

For provision planning purposes KCC’s forecasting methodology produces forecasts according to planning groups.  These planning groups are nationally recognised by central Government; Maidstone Grammar School for Girls forms part of the Maidstone and Malling selective planning group.

 

The Commissioning Plan forecast for the Maidstone and Malling Selective planning group indicates that there will be a deficit of Year 7 girls’ selective places from 2023-24 if no additional places are established. To meet the demand for Year 7 places we propose to expand the Maidstone Grammar School for Girls by 1 FE, increasing its PAN from 180 to 210 from September 2023.

 

Maidstone Grammar School for Girls has provided education for girls from Maidstone and the surrounding area for over 130 years. The school was judged as ‘Outstanding’ by OFSTED in May 2009 and is ideally located within Maidstone town to meet the forecast demand within the established travel to school patterns for the Maidstone and Malling Selective planning group.

 

KCC have worked with the school to ascertain the additional accommodation required for it to expand by 1FE on a permanent basis. That work identified the additional space required in direct support of a future expansion and combines modernisation work that includes the replacement of both T Block and N Block. These existing blocks at the school are significantly beyond their designed lifespan and require replacement. Combining this modernisation work with the expansion scheme enables KCC to benefit from the economies of scale that can be achieved by completing the works together rather than replacing the existing blocks in isolation.

 

The scheme also incorporates the provision of a visitor centre, linked to the school’s unique set of Second World War Air Raid Shelters, which will be an integral part of the new accommodation but will be funded by the school, but also takes advantage of the economies of scale presented by the expansion project. The purpose of the visitor centre is to enable the school to provide opportunities for students in primary schools to visit the school and gain a real life experience of school life during the Second World War. There will also be opportunities for some members of the public to visit the Air raid Shelters during some school holidays. This part of the works will be funded by the school and not KCC.

 

The required accommodation comprises a new teaching block, which includes the visitor centre, an extensive music classroom, 6 practice rooms and associated storage and ancillary spaces.  This project therefore brings much needed modernisation work and will transform the school for the benefit of all students as well as provide space for additional students.

 

Data Protection implications

KCC and the school are the ‘controllers’ under the General Data Protection Regulation and will ensure that any personal information is processed fairly and lawfully within any consultation work.

 

Decision type: Key

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

Decision status: For Determination

Division affected: Maidstone Central;

Notice of proposed decision first published: 31/05/2022

Decision due: Not before 29th Jun 2022 by Cabinet Member for Education and Skills

Consultation process

In accordance with the Department for Education’s Statutory Guidance (October 2018): Making ‘prescribed alterations’ to maintained schools, there is a need to undertake a formal statutory consultation process.

 

An informal education consultation ran from 21st April 2022 to 19th May 2022.

 

Subject to the decision from the Cabinet Member, a Public Notice is planned to run in August 2022.

 

Cabinet Committee consultation planned

The proposed expansion of Maidstone Grammar School for Girls will be considered by the 19th July 2022 Children’s, Young People and Education Services Cabinet Committee.

Financial implications: The total scheme cost is £8 million. This entails £5.23 million from the Basic Need Capital Programme Budget to fund the construction of the required additional accommodation and £1.6 million of Education Modernisation funding to enable the replacement of the T Block accommodation to be incorporated within the scheme. The school will contribute £1,175,759 towards the project to cover the costs of the visitor centre and contribute towards the Music Suite of rooms which is outside the scope of Basic Need.

Legal implications: Planning permission will be required for the new accommodation to enable the expansion of the school.

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.