Issue details

23/00001 - Proposal to establish a new 2FE Primary School in Thanington Canterbury for September 2025.

Proposed decision –


1)    Agree that a Free School Presumption Competition can commence in order to seek applications from potential sponsors to run the new 2FE Primary School in Thanington, Canterbury.

2)    Allocate £9.9m from the Children, Young People and Education Capital budget.

3)    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.

4)    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.

In order to establish the new 2 FE primary School in Thanington, Canterbury. Kent County Council is required to run a Free School Presumptive competition to secure an Academy Sponsor. The Education Act 2011 changed the arrangements for establishing new schools and introduced Section 6A (the academy and free school presumption) to the Education and Inspections Act 2006.  This was amended in March 2015 to be only a free school presumption.  Where a local authority identifies a need for a new school in its area, it must seek proposals to establish a free school.  All new free school proposals require the Secretary of State’s approval. 


·     Background

The new 2FE Primary School in Thanington, Canterbury, is being established to meet the demand for places from new housing developments in the vicinity.  The new school is to be built on the Cockering Farm housing development and the site was secured through the Section 106 agreement for this site. The school will meet the need for additional primary school places arising from new housing on this site and the surrounding area and will reduce the impact on the road system in the immediate area. The 3 main developments in Thanington will produce a total of 1,150 new homes. These developments would be expected to generate 322 primary pupils (based on all dwellings being applicable).


The new Primary school will provide 420 places for pupils aged 4 to 11 years and is planned to open in September 2025.  Initially the school will open as a 1FE school of 30 pupils in Year R (reception year) growing year on year. The second reception class will open at a future date as the housing development expands and houses are occupied. This phased approach is to ensure that there are not too many primary school places in Canterbury and that additional places are brought forward as demand increases.


·     Options (other options considered but discarded)

Other options, apart from delaying the opening date of the new school, have not been considered as this school is to serve the new housing development in Thanington and forms part of a s106 agreement. The agreement requires KCC to enter a building contract within 2 years of the transfer of the site. The site was transferred in July 2021.


·     How the proposed decision meets the objectives of ‘Framing Kent’s Future – Our Council Strategy (2022-2026)

This proposal will help to secure Priority 1 Levelling up Kent: to maintain KCC’s strategic role in supporting schools in Kent to deliver accessible, high quality education provision for all families.


The Commissioning Plan for Education Provision in Kent 2022-2026 sets out the need for commissioning additional school places.




Decision type: Key

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

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Division affected: Canterbury South;

Notice of proposed decision first published: 01/02/2023

This decision will be taken under urgency procedures.

Decision due: Not before 2nd Mar 2023 by Cabinet Member for Education and Skills
Reason: in order that the proposed decision can be published for a minimum of 28 days, in accordance with statutory requirements

Lead member: Cabinet Member for Education and Skills

Lead director: Christine McInnes

Department: Education & Young People's Services

Contact: Marisa White, Area Education Officer - East Kent Email: 03000 418794 Email: Tel: 01227 284407.

Consultation process

A 6-week community consultation ran from 7 November 2022 to 19 December 2022.


A verbal update on the consultation was planned for the Children’s, Young People and Education Cabinet Committee on 17 January 2023.


The views of the Local Member - Canterbury South, Mike Sole - have been sought during the community consultation and any comments included in the report to the Cabinet Committee.


Financial implications: The new school will be delivered in two phases in response to demand for school places in the area: • Phase 1 - 1FE classrooms (7 classrooms and a nursery class) plus core facilities for a 2FE school (hall etc) • Phase 2 – 2nd FE of classrooms (another 7 classrooms and accompanying facilities) The current estimated cost for each phase is: • Phase 1 – £8m • Phase 2 - £1.9m • Total Costs - £9.9m Developer Contributions totalling £6.4m have been requested and agreed towards the new 2FE Thanington Primary School. Of this £0.2m has been received to date. Initial estimates suggest a KCC Capital Contribution of approximately £3.5m however this subject to further Cabinet Member Key Decision once planning permission has been completed and costings have been refined. This will be expected to be funded from Basic Need Capital Programme. Fuller details of the financial implications will be set out in the decision paperwork.

Legal implications: Any legal implications will be identified in the report to the Cabinet Member for Children’s, Young People and Education before he takes his decision.

Equalities implications: An Equality Impact Assessment has been produced and the assessment identified the following positive impacts: • Will ensure there are sufficient accessible primary school places for children and families in Thanington and the surrounding area. • Will ensure that there is sufficient local provision to meet the need from new local housing. Data Protection implications: A DPIA was not required.