Sarah Williams presented the report and sought approval for up to £7 million funding to implement the next schools capital programme to include the secondary school expansions and possible expansion of a further two primary schools. One in Aveley/Ockendon area and other in the North East to meet the increased predicted demand for pupil places from September 2017.
The School Capital Expansion Programme had a current estimated provisional value of £7 million to be funded from the Department of Education capital basic needs grant, underspends would come from the current capital programme and S.106 education funding and would require Council approval.
The Chair stated that the report was for the committee to consider and not approve as recommendation 1 stated.
Councillor Watkins stated that he was confused by the forecast figures and asked how figures could be based on developments that had not yet gone through the planning application process. Sarah Williams stated that the forecast figures were predications based on the applications that had been received so far and that all applications would need to be addressed for demands to be met.
Roger Edwardson stated that the problem was trying to anticipate the demand and looking at projected increases in the population. He stated that part of the high demand and the success of Thurrock was the good reputation of the schools and that there was an identified gap in secondary and primary schools.
Councillor Redsell asked the Officers if the demand by parents to place their children in a certain school had increased and had this stopped children in that area getting into this school. Roger Edwardson stated that there were no longer catchment areas.
A discussion took place between Members and Officers on the clarification of catchment areas and how this was still being advertised on local housing developments and on the council web site. Roger Edwardson and Rory Patterson stated that the school admission process was being reviewed and would check the Council web site tomorrow to ensure that the correct information was being displayed.
Councillor Allen stated that with the increase of individuals, communities and businesses into the borough he had concerns that the number of school places would not match these increases.
Roger Edwardson stated that the Council were seeking additional 5-6 free schools under the free school programme at unknown locations at this present time. This would form part of the build programme over the next 5 years.
Councillor Redsell stated that a large number of children were being home tutored and asked Officers if these numbers were included in the forecasts. Roger Edwardson stated that home tutoring should be discouraged and that there were a large proportion of children home tutored not known to the council.
1. That a provisional School capital Programme budget of £7 million as set out in this report be recommended.
2. That authority subject to the Council’s procurement rules delegate to the Director of Children’s Services, in consultation with the relevant Portfolio Holder and Head of Legal, to commence, negotiate and award any contracts/agreements or documents incidental to the School Capital Programme within the budget as set out in this report.
Sarah Williams left the committee room at 7.53pm.