Agenda item

Proposal to Expand Capacity at Market Deeping Community Primary School (Final Decision)

(To receive a report from Matthew Clayton, Admissions and Education Provision Manager, which asks the Scrutiny Committee to consider a proposal to expand capacity at Market Deeping Community Primary School, prior to it being considered by the Executive Councillor for Adult Care, Health and Children's Services on 21 June 2017)


The Chairman highlighted to the Committee that as the item before them was for pre-decision scrutiny, prior to an Executive Councillor decision on 21 June 2017, the following process would be followed:-


·         An overview of the report would be provided by the Admissions and Education Provision Manager;

·         Members would then be given the opportunity to ask questions on the report;

·         Members to then debate the contents of the report;

·         The Committee to vote on whether to support the recommendation to the Executive Councillor. (As this item was an educational item, added members were also entitled to vote); and

·         The Committee to then agree any comments it wished to pass on to the Executive Councillor.  (The comments to be written up by Tracy Johnson, Senior Scrutiny Officer).


Consideration was given to a report from Matthew Clayton, Admissions and Education Provision Manager, which invited the Scrutiny Committee to consider a proposal to permanently expand capacity at Market Deeping Community Primary School (final decision) with effect from 1 September 2017. 


The following documents were appended to the Executive report:-


·         Appendix A – A summary of written consultation responses;

·         Appendix B – A copy of the Statutory Notice, published on 24 March 2017;

·         Appendix C – A copy of the complete proposal to expand Market Deeping Community Primary School; and

·         Appendix D – Site Plan.


The Admissions and Education Provision Manager provided the Committee with an overview of the process and the reasons for the request for the proposal.  The Committee noted that the rise in national birth rates, combined with inward migration and housing development was resulting in an increased demand for primary schools places, and overall there was expected to be a long term requirement for more school places.


The Committee was advised that Market Deeping would experience a shortage of available places if capacity at one or more of the local schools was not increased, or additional capacity added through alternative means.  Reasons for the recommendation were detailed on pages 25/26 of the report presented.  It was reported that the Local Authority (LA) considered the proposal to be the most appropriate available solution to the expected shortage of primary school places in Market Deeping.  The proposal had received full support of the Governing Body and it was felt that the school could drive forward a successful expansion which would provide the opportunity to improve the learning experience and outcomes for children.  It also enabled the LA to fulfil its statutory duty of ensuring that there were sufficient places to accommodate all pupils of statutory school age in Lincolnshire.


The proposal being consulted on was to permanently expand Market Deeping Community Primary School from the existing capacity of 210 places based on a Published Admission Number (PAN) of 30 to an increased capacity of 315 places with a new PAN of 45.  This would initially increase the PAN from 30 to 45 for the Reception intake in September 2018 only.  The increased intake of up to 45 would then be phased in with each subsequent Reception intake until the PAN of 45 applied to all year groups.


The report highlighted that in accordance with the Education and Inspections Act 2006, a letter incorporating relevant information and reasons for the proposal was sent out to interested parties on 16 January 2017 for a four week period.  Written responses received were contained within Appendix A to the report.  There had been 66 valid responses in total, of which 7 had been against the proposal, 43 for the proposal and 16 neither for nor against.  It was noted that all comments would be taken in to account by the Executive Councillor in the decision making process.


Appendix D provided a layout plan showing the areas of proposed change to accommodate the increase in the number of pupils, which included additional teaching and intervention spaces as well as other areas such as toilets and a significant extension to the school hall.


During consideration of the report the Committee raised the following points:-


·         Some concern was raised in relation to the effect of additional traffic and parking in the potential area, and how this would be mitigated.  It was also queried as to whether any objections that had been raised during the consultation period had been in relation to traffic.  Officers confirmed that only one response to the consultation and one response to the statutory notice had raised issues concerning traffic.  The Committee noted that the former and current county councillor had been consulted and both were in support of the proposals.  It was highlighted that access to the school had been improved and Tesco had already provided some car parking for parents to use.  The Committee was reminded that as part of the planning application process, there would be a full consultation around traffic and parking and a school travel plan would be produced;

·         Concerns were also expressed about future proofing and whether there would be enough capacity in the local primary sector going forward with the new housing development planned.  It was highlighted that there was some future proofing as there was the possibility to expand the school further from 315 places to 420 places in the future, subject to additional capital and building works.  It was highlighted further that there was a need to avoid over future proofing, as surplus school places could lead to parents questioning their preference which could result in a negative impact on other schools in the area.  In addition, the Committee noted that Section 106 money from housing developers would only be available if there was to be insufficient capacity; hence the need to match capacity rather than provide surplus capacity, otherwise the Council would lose the Section 106 money from housing developments;

·         One member queried as to what the current financial position of the school was and whether money was already available for the expansion.  The Committee was advised that the school was not set to go into financial deficit; and that the school would receive additional funding due to an increase in the number of pupils on roll.  The Committee was advised further that the capital from Section 106 funding would become available once the housing development had been completed;

·         It was queried as to whether the increase in PAN from 30 to 45 would lead to mixed age or ability classes.  It was confirmed that there would be some classes with mixed classes which would either be by age, ability or friendship groups.  It was for the school to decide how best to do this and that there was several examples of popular and successful schools in the county that organised their year groups in this way; and

·         A query was raised as to whether there would be any impact on the school's playing fields.  Officers confirmed that the building work would not impact on the playing fields and that they would remain at their current size.




1.    That the Children and Young People Scrutiny Committee unanimously supported the recommendation as detailed in the Executive Councillor report presented.


2.      That the comments as detailed above be passed on to the Executive Councillor for Adult Care, Health and Children's Services in relation to this item.

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