(a) Authorise funding of up to £2,900,000 from the Children’s Young People and Education Capital Budget to enable Chilmington Green Secondary school to open off-site from September 2023.
(b) Delegate authority to the Director of Property and Infrastructure to take necessary actions, including but not limited to entering into necessary contracts or taking other legal actions as required, to implement the decision.
The Commissioning Plan for Education in Kent has long identified the strategic solution to the secondary school needs of Ashford to be the provision of a new secondary school at Chilmington Green. This development, consent for 5,750 new homes, provides a site for a new secondary school and, over time, £22.5m of contributions.
The Department for Education (DfE) has, in principle, included the new school in its “wave programme” and has appointed United Learning Trust (ULT) to be the school sponsor. The DfE has secured planning permission for the school (June 2022).
KCC’s aspiration had been to have the new school opened in September 2021. Due to delays in getting the site transferred to KCC with all the infrastructure in place, it is unlikely that the school will be open on the permanent site until Easter 2024 at the earliest, but this could be delayed further with up to two years of off-site provision being required.
Currently there are two off site options available:
The Former Ashford South Primary School, Jemmett Road, Ashford
The Former Linden Grove Primary School, Stanhope Road, Ashford
The high level costs for refurbishing the school sites and insuring that there is sufficient provision for up to two years is as follows:
Ashford South: £2,525,557 (Year 1: £1,201,884, Year 2: £1,323,673.59)
Linden Grove: £2,909,668 (Year 1: £2,384,655, Year 2: £525,013 )
Subject to final approval by the Secretary of State for Education, the DfE is willing to approve the opening of the school from September 2023 and to progress the build of Chilmington Green Secondary School, if KCC provides and funds any temporary accommodation needed by the school prior to its new, permanent buildings being occupied.
There is an urgent need to provide secondary school places in Ashford Town non-selective schools in September 2023 and September 2024. Existing schools have all been admitting further pupils and cannot continue to do so without significant additional investment, and there are no guarantees suitable solutions can be delivered.
Decision type: Key
Reason Key: Expenditure or savings of more than £1m;
Decision status: For Determination
Division affected: Ashford Rural West;
Notice of proposed decision first published: 30/08/2022
Decision due: Not before 28th Sep 2022 by Cabinet Member for Education and Skills
Lead member: Cabinet Member for Education and Skills
Lead director: Christine McInnes
Department: Education & Young People's Services
The £3,100,000 of forward funding has been agreed via a deed of variation (decision number 21/00014). This decision was endorsed at the Children’s, Young People and Education Cabinet Committee on 9th March 2021.
Decision was due for consideration at Children’s, Young People and Education Cabinet Committee meeting on 13 September 2022. Due to meeting postponement, the decision needs to be taken out of cycle. Details available in published decision documentation.
Financial implications: Funding for Chilmington Green Secondary School has been agreed via an s106 agreement. There are 6 payments linked to both time or occupation triggers totalling £22,500,000 plus indexation. If the School is delivered via the 'wave' programme it is expected that the s106 payments are transferred to the DfE as and when they are received by KCC. In addition £3,100,000 of forward funding has been agreed via a deed of variation (decision number 21/00014) to support the developer in delivering the secondary school site with the infrastructure in place. The agreement requires the developer to repay to the Council the forward funding, with interest. Funding for the off-site provision will need to be met from the Basic Need Capital Budget. The £2,900,000 will only be required if the off-site provision is needed for 2 academic years. If this is the case, this will provide 240 new places at a maximum of £12,083 a place.
Legal implications: Kent County Council (KCC) as the Local Authority has a duty to ensure sufficient school places are available. The opening of Chilmington Green School in September 2023 will support KCC discharge its duty.
Equalities implications: Equalities implications: An Equality Impact Assessment has been completed. No adverse impact on protected groups has been identified at this point. Data Protection implications: A DPIA was not required.