Report of the Deputy Chief Executive (People)
The Cabinet considered a report of the Deputy Chief Executive (People) that sought approval for the programme of work outlined within the proposed Coventry One Strategic Plan for Primary, Secondary Education and Special Educational Needs. Appendices to the report provided the One Strategic Plan 2019-2025, the Letter from Lord Agnew regarding Basic Need funding (Dated: 30/05/2018), the Letter from Lord Agnew regarding Basic Need funding (Dated: 23/09/2019), the School Organisation Regulations, and the alternative Options for Secondary Expansion.
Under Section 14 of the Education Act 1996, Coventry City Council had a statutory duty to ensure sufficient school places and fair, appropriate access to education. It was the Council’s role to plan, commission and organise school places in a way that raised standards, managed supply and demand and created a diverse infrastructure.
The Coventry One Strategic Plan, presented to the Cabinet 2nd October 2018 (minute 46/18 referred), set out pupil forecasts for special, primary and secondary pupils across education planning areas in response to rising or falling pupil cohorts across the city. It outlined the strategy proposed by the Local Authority and the Coventry Secondary Headteacher Partnership to meet the additional places required in secondary provision from 2019 – 2024. Work had also been undertaken to look at the Special School provision, primary estate in line with falling birth rates and how these factors would be mitigated.
It was proposed that this strategy would be flexible, able to adapt to shifting mechanisms of parental preference, unforeseen changes in supply and demand of school places, and future birth rates. To do this, the One Strategic Plan would be monitored and updated annually with presentation to the Elected Member with responsibility for the Council’s Education Portfolio, and to the Cabinet, alongside a wider process of constant review of School Place Planning. In addition, the procuring of places would take place annually so as to not create an unstable number of school places.
A Memorandum of Understanding had been established to ensure partnership commitment between the Council and secondary schools (and would be rolled out to primary and special schools, subject to approval). These partnerships signified a commitment and co-operation between the Council, governing bodies and school leadership teams to meet the educational needs of children and young people in Coventry, ensure the sustainability of Coventry schools, and to enable the City Council to meet its statutory obligations.
This partnership commitment signified a statement of intent to collaborate and work in partnership to achieve the best possible outcomes for children and young people in Coventry, ensure the sustainability of Coventry schools, and to enable the City Council to meet its statutory obligations. As part of this process, numerous options had been discussed at both full partnership meetings, and the Secondary Headteacher Executive.
The preferred option presented below had been approved by the partnership as being the best valid option keeping in line with statutory requirements as outlined by the DfE to:
i. Spend capital funding efficiently
ii. Safeguard the quality of places in the system
iii. Manage down spare capacity in the estate where it exists.
Capital allocations to meet projected shortfalls in provision were provided by the Education Skills Funding Agency to all Local Authorities based on the data provided in the annual School Capacity return. Demand for places minus the supply of places was multiplied by a cost per pupil place to inform the final allocation. This return informed the Education Skills Funding Agency of the expected change in pupil numbers over the next few years, the current capacity of schools to meet those numbers and the planned changes to that capacity. There was currently a delay in the allocation to all councils for the capital allocations 2021/2022 likely to be announced later this year. The report therefore focussed upon need up to 2022.
RESOLVED that the Cabinet:
1) Authorises the programme of work outlined within the proposed Coventry One Strategic Plan for Primary, Secondary Education and Special Educational Needs, subject to the funding being secured.
2) Agrees to delegate authority to the Deputy Chief Executive (People) to agree the most appropriate procurement route for the works to be delivered and awarded.