Issue details

22/00068 - Addition of dining facilities at The John Wallis Academy, Ashford, to enable the Academy to accommodate an additional 30 Year 7 pupils in September 2023.

Proposed decision:

  1. Release £380,000 from the Children’s, Young People and Education Basic Need Capital Budget to add additional dining facilities at The John Wallis Academy, Ashford, to enable the Academy to accommodate an additional 30 Year 7 pupils in September 2023.
  2. Authorise the Director of Education in consultation with the General Counsel to enter into any necessary contracts / agreements on behalf of the County Council.
  3. 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 the decision

The John Wallis Academy has supported the need for additional non-selective school places in Ashford by offering additional Year 7 places for the last 3 years.  For September 2022, the Local Authority requested that the Academy offered an additional 60 Year 7 places to support the need for additional places in the Borough. 

 

To accommodate the additional pupils additional teaching facilities are required.  A feasibility was completed by the Academy and shared with KCC which demonstrated how this could be achieved by reconfiguring and reprovisioning existing spaces. 

 

To support this a funding agreement to the value of £985,000 has been agreed and a funding agreement has been put in place.  As this was under £1,000,000 this was agreed as an officer delegated decision.

 

However, an additional 30 Year 7 places will be required again in September 2023.  The Academy will have sufficient teaching accommodation thanks to the £985,000 of investment, but they will not have sufficient dining facilities to enable the school to run efficiently having added additional places for five years at the LA’s request at that point.  A feasibility has been completed by the Academy and they have requested £380,000 for the works.  To ensure the works can be completed for September 2023, an early agreement is required.

 

Although this is a separate project and a separate contract to the works required for the teaching provision required for September 2022, as both will be agreed in a short timeframe and the total agreed is in excess of £1,000,000 it would seem appropriate to bring this to Members for a decision.

 

Background:

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.  For September 2022, it was forecast that 52 additional Year 7 places were required in the planning group (Figure 1).  However, increased pressures led to 123 Year 7 places being added. 

 

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

840

12

-35

-52

-107

-69

-21

-81

-33

758

Ashford Selective

420

-13

-1

0

1

0

1

3

-2

420

 

If additional secondary provision is not provided forecasts suggest a shortfall of 107 Year 7 places in 2023 with places (although fewer) being required throughout the forecast period (until the 2027-28 academic year).  Given the under forecast for September 2022, these forecasts could be conservative. 

 

It should be noted that the wider Ashford Borough forecasts do not include the impact of the closure of High Weald School (Cranbrook) or Homewood School reducing their published admission number (PAN) by 30 places in 2023.  Draft forecasts suggest in excess of 1FE of additional pressure (30 + Year 7 places above what is seen in Figure 1) in both September 2023 and 2024. 

 

The planned opening of Chilmington Green Secondary School in temporary provision will add 120 Year 7 places.  However, the opening of this school will not be confirmed until a funding agreement is in place which will be after offer day 2023.  Even with Chilmington Green opening, it is expected that additional temporary places will be required to get through offer day and to provide sufficient provision for September 2023.

  

Options (other options considered but discarded):

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

 

The alternative is to allocate school places at schools in other districts with the associated transport costs and any capital allocation that may be required.

Decision type: Key

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

Decision status: For Determination

Division affected: Ashford South;

Notice of proposed decision first published: 06/07/2022

Decision due: 4 Aug 2022 by Cabinet Member for Education and Skills

Lead director: Christine McInnes

Department: Education & Young People's Services

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

Consultees

The decision was considered and endorsed by the Children’s, Young People and Education Cabinet Committee on 19 July 2022.

Financial implications: A funding agreement for £985,000 is already in place between KCC and the Academy which has secured 60 additional Year 7 places required in September 2022. An additional £380,000 will be required to add dining facilities that will enable the school to accommodate an additional 30 pupils in September 2023. A separate funding agreement will be completed. No further funding will be allocated. Should the costs for the dining facilities be greater than the £380,000 the Academy will be required to pick up the difference. This will mean that KCC will have agreed to a total of £1,365,000 in funding to secure the additional places required for September 2022 and September 2023. In total this will provide 90 temporary places at a cost of £15,167 per place which is good value for money. £179,000 in developer contributions have been secured to date. The £1,365,000 has been included in the CYPE Basic Need Capital Budget.

Legal implications: 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: http://www.kent.gov.uk/about-the-council/strategies-and-policies/education-skills-and-employment-policies/education-provision.

Equalities implications: An Equality Impact Assessment have been completed. 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. A DPIA was not required.

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