Agenda item

School Place Planning and the Processes for School Reorganisation

(To receive a report from Matthew Clayton, Admissions and Education Provision Manager, which provides the Committee with information to the sufficiency of school places in Lincolnshire in more details and outlines the process and criteria involved in addressing those pressures when deciding how to increase capacity and where)


The Chairman welcomed to the meeting Matthew Clayton, Admissions and Education Provision Manager.


In guiding the Committee through the report, reference was made to the fact that in accordance with the Education Act 1996, the Local Authority (LA) had a statutory duty to ensure there was sufficient school places to meet need, either through maintained schools or academies.  In order to fulfil this requirement, it was highlighted that effective school place planning was required.


Appendix A to the report provided the Committee with a high level summary of the sufficiency of school places in Lincolnshire, as provided for in the School Organisation Plan 2018/19.  The Committee noted that this was a public document which provided an overview of the factors involved in school organisation planning, in addition to district level data showing existing and projected pupil numbers against available capacity.


It was reported that the LA return data to the Department for Education (DfE) provided the projected pupil numbers and capacity across the County at a smaller geographical level through planning areas.  From this data the DfE allocated Basic Need capital to LAs to provide additional school places to meet demand.


Page 26 of the report provided a flow chart which detailed the process used by Officers in the school planning process.


The Committee was advised that over the next six years there was expected to be a 2%-3% increase in primary pupil numbers; and up to a 20% increase in secondary school pupil numbers in some parts of the County.  It was highlighted that as nearly all secondary schools were now academies, the LA would continue to work with the Regional School Commissioner to ensure that the needs of local communities were met, with regard to sufficient school places.


A discussion ensued, from which the following comments were raised:-


·         Page 43 – Ratio used to meet proven demand.  The Committee was advised that the proven ratio used to measure the additional demand for places from new houses was based on local research looking at completed housing developments.  The Committee noted that the ratio currently used presumed that 100 new homes would generate an average of 20 primary pupils and 19 secondary aged pupils across all year group in total;

·         Porta-Cabins – One member enquired whether porta-cabins were still loaned to schools to help them meet their capacity.  The Committee was advised that the LA still had porta cabins on sites around the County; but this was an option that would be avoided if possible, as the provision of a more permanent classroom was the better option, as mobile classrooms were now a more costly option;

·         Further Education (FE) Provision - One member enquired as to what work was being done to support FE providers who were losing out to sixth forms.  Officers advised that there was a range of reasons why some FEs were struggling, including that sixth forms received more funding.  It was highlighted that work was ongoing with both colleges and sixth forms to get both sectors to work together better. Confirmation was also given that FE colleges were not governed by the LA.  Some concern was expressed the FE colleges were losing their vocational courses.  The Committee was advised that post 16 courses were changing; and as a result FE colleges would need to collaborate more;

·         Page 45 – That the national census data had shown that over 28,500 people spoke with a foreign language as their main language; and that 69.3% of those spoke English well, which was below the national average.  A question was asked as to what the LA was doing to improve the percentage of those not speaking English very well.  The Committee was advised that one school now had one of the first Phonic Hubs which would support other schools in Lincolnshire; and that the DfE provided funding through the funding formula to support this;

·         Following a scenario given by a member relating to meeting provision; and the problems encountered with Academisation, the Committee was advised that the LA had no powers with regard to this matter;

·         That new schools needed to be designed so that they could be easily extended, should the need arise.  Officers confirmed that designs for new schools were designed to be future proofed;

·         Clarity over figures on pages 33 and 42 of the report.  Officers advised that the figures on page 33 were figures from the Office of National Statistics; and the ones on page 43 were local figures provided from NHS GP Registration Data as of January 2018.  It was highlighted that housing development figures were based on estimates rather than facts.  The Committee was advised that the Admissions and Education Provision Manager and the Team had been commended for their approach to school place planning;

·         The impact of increasing numbers on local communities and transportation; and

·         The need for District Councils to work better with colleagues from the County Council when considering the need for new housing developments.


The Chairman on behalf of the Committee extended thanks to the Admissions and Educations Provision Manager for his very informative presentation.




That the report on School Place Planning and the Process for School Re-organisation be received and that the comments raised be taken into consideration by Officers.   

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