Schools Forum 14th October 2009 Agenda Item 7 Annex A

Supporting report for the Key Decision by the Cabinet Member for Education and 2012 Gamesin respect of:

Raising achievement through the transformation of secondary

schooling in Colchester______

Purpose of Report

To report on representations received in respect of the following related Statutory Proposals for transforming secondary schooling in Colchester published on 23 June 2009 and to recommend final determination:

To discontinue:

  • Sir Charles Lucas Arts Collegewith effect from 31 August 2010 conditional upon the Secretary of State agreeing a new replacement Academy on the site from 1 September 2010; (As a point of information, the normal timescale for delivering capital schemes for new academies is to complete the schemes within 3 years of the academy opening in existing buildings – the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme currently assumes completion in 2014 i.e. 4 years)
  • Alderman Blaxill School and The Thomas, Lord Audley School (TLA)with effect from 31 August 2015 and cease admissions to Year 7 at both schools from September 2011.

To make the following prescribed alterations with effect from 1 September 2011:

  • Establish special educational needs provision for 20 pupils at St HelenaSchoolreserved for children with the Specific Learning Difficulty of dyslexia;
  • Enlarge the premises of PhilipMorantSchool and College to increase its capacity by 270places and increase the number of pupils to be admitted to Year 7 by 54 pupils;
  • Enlarge the premises of The Stanway School to increase its capacity by 405 places and increase the number of pupils to be admitted to Year 7 by 81 pupils;
  • Increase the number of pupils to be admitted to Year 7 at ThurstableSchool, SportsCollege and Sixth Form Centre by 27 pupils;
  • Increase the number of pupils to be admitted to Year 7 at St HelenaSchoolby 27 pupils.

Note: The enlargement of the premises of PhilipMorantSchool and StanwaySchool will commence in September 2011 when the first increased intakes are admitted. It is anticipated that the full enlargement of the premises through the BSF projects will be completed by September 2014.

Recommendation and Decision Areas

The Decision Maker (as defined in DCSF Guidance, relevant copies of which are attached) has a choice of decisions that it could make. They are:

a) approve the proposals,

b) approve the proposals subject to a condition,

c) approve the proposals with a modification

d) refuse the proposals.

All the proposals are ‘related’ so the decisions should be compatible, e.g. where one set is to remove provision and another is to establish or enlarge provision for displaced pupils, both should be approved or rejected.

It is recommended that all of the above proposals be approved.

In conjunction with the determination of these proposals it is recommended that a vocationalcentre be developed in the Monkwick/Shrub End area of Colchester to provide high quality vocational education and training for 14 – 19 year olds from the whole Colchester area.

1.Relevance to the Council’s strategic objectives and strategic plans

1.1The proposal to raise achievement through the transformation of secondary schooling in Colchester relates to our EssexWorks pledge in 2008/09 to introduce radical initiatives to ensure diverse, high quality secondary schools in every area of the County. Increasing educational achievement and skills is an EssexWorks priority and a key strand of improving quality of life in Colchester. The County Council’s fundamental objective is to improve the life chances of all young people in Colchester by providing them with better learning opportunities that help raise their aspirations and equip them with sufficient skills and qualifications for their futures.

1.2One of the priorities contained in the Children and Young People’s Plan (CYPP) 2009/11 is to enable all children and young people to aspire, learn, achieve highly and realise their potential, by reducing the number of schools not performing well enough, particularly those where fewer than 30% of pupils achieve 5 or more A*-C grades at GCSE, including English and maths. Whilst it is to be hoped that this reduction would in the main be achieved through intervention and support, in some cases structural change is necessary to address low performance. These proposals seek to remove lower performing schools and increase the number of places at higher performing schools, and in the case of Sir Charles Lucas, replace it with a new Academy with educational sponsorship which it is expected will support and drive improved outcomes.

1.3 A further aspect of the action in the CYPP to improve outcomes is to implement the BSF programme to ensure the delivery of high quality and diverse secondary school provision which will raise standards and improve young people’s opportunities and well being. These proposals will attract BSF funding to rebuild or significantly remodel and extend the five remaining non selective, non denominational comprehensive schools in Colchester, together with the new Academy.

1.4This significant BSF capital investment in school buildings across Colchester will be a key component of regeneration. Developing better skills and improved educational attainment are regeneration priorities in the town. The new and improved buildings and provision for Colchester schools will contribute to ensuring young people and residents have the relevant skills required to access employment and other opportunities.

1.5The proposal takes account of the forecast future pupil numbers for the town and the impact of the closure of TLA and AldermanBlaxillSchools. This proposal will create a sustainable solution for Colchester as a whole to secure resilience in terms of pupil numbers and standards of education for all the secondary schools in Colchester. Surplus capacity will be removed and pupils will be offered a placein a better performing school and have the opportunity to perform better themselves as a result. The proposal will also see the expansion of schools popular with parents.

2. Legal Implications

2.1The initial consultations were formulated and carried out in accordance with relevant legal requirements for changing the organisation of school place provision. The consultation period ran for 8 weeks from 23 October to 19 December 2008. Four public meetings were held and were advertised in the local press on6 November. Representations received throughout the process were considered by Cabinet on 27 January 2009 when it resolved to consult further on a preferred option. The meeting schedule and notes of the public meetings were available as background papers to report to Cabinet on 27 January 2009, which itself is available as a background paper to this report.

2.2The second phase of the consultationran for 5 weeks from 6 February to 13 March 2009. Notice of the consultation meetings at individual schools and the public meeting on 4 March 2009 at the Colchester Community Stadium was given in the Colchester Evening Gazette on the following dates: Monday, 16February; Thursday, 19 February; Monday 23 February and Thursday 26 February 2009. In addition notices were also posted in Colchester libraries.Meetings with schools (including pupils, staff, Governing Bodies and parents) and other stakeholders took place throughout the consultation.

2.3Cabinet, at its meeting on 31 March 2009, considered the outcome of this second round of consultations and resolved to proceed with the publication of statutory notices setting out the Council’s proposals, for the prescribed 6 week representation period. The report to Cabinet on 31 March 2009is available as a background paper to this report.

2.4The Council, as Decision Maker is now required to determine the proposals having regard to the Decision Makers Guidance issued by the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) and the representations received during the notice period that expired on 4 August 2009.
2.5The final decision on these proposals could be subject to appeal to the Office of the Schools Adjudicator by either of the Diocesan Education Boards, the Essex Learning and Skills Council or the governing body of any foundation school subject to the proposed closures or expansion.

3.Finance and Resources Implications

3.1The capital costs incurred in the transformation of secondary schooling in Colchester(including the capital costs associated with the new academy) will be met, in the main, by grant from the DCSF through the BSF programme. This funding has been agreed by Partnership for Schools (PfS) and is currently in the order of £150M. The funding is not ‘guaranteed’nor is the exact sum set until the final business case is approved after which construction works start almost immediately. However, PfS have identified the £150M in the national programme for BSF wave 6 and the funding for this wave is identified in Central Government’s spending review of 2007 and hence we would not expect this to change. Works will be necessary, particularly at Philip Morant and St Helena to allow them to admit the increased intakes in advance of the BSF major building projects. The cost of these works is in the order of £2.3M and is identified in the 2010/2011 Capital Programme.

3.2There will be additional transport costs building year on year as each new cohort is admitted to the enlarged popular schools. The full cost of this transport after 5 years (2015) is estimated to be in the order of £444,000 a year on current prices. The details of these estimates and a breakdown of the costs are set out in 3.3 – 3.5 below. This additional funding will need to be found.

3.3From September 2011 new transport arrangements will be needed for pupils from MerseaIsland attending ThurstableSchool. This will eventually involve about 60 children a year so over a five year period this will build to around 300 children a day by 2015 needing to be bussed from Mersea to Tiptree. The cost of this additional transport could be in the order of £207,500 on current prices although this would be offset by the current cost of transport from Mersea to TLA, which will cease in 2015, which is £76,000 a year. The total additional cost of this transport could therefore be in the order of £131,500 a year.

3.4All pupils in the Monkwick and Cherry Tree areas will be entitled to free transport to StanwaySchool. The average cohort of pupils living in the areas of these two schools is 79 children. Assuming a 90% take up of places at StanwaySchool over a five year period a total of around 350 children a day will need to be bussed to StanwaySchool from 2015. The cost of this transport could be in the order of £237,500 a year on current prices.

3.5There will be additional transport costs in relation to some pupils in the Old Heath area who will be entitled to transport to St HelenaSchool and some in the Rowhedge and Fingringhoe areas who will be entitled to transport to the proposed new academy. It is more difficult to assess the numbers involved but allowing for two more vehicles or the equivalent thereof daily the additional cost would be in the order of £75,000 a year.

3.6There will also be costs incurred in supporting the schools during the period up to closure to ensure as far as possible continuity of provision for pupils and forthe transition arrangements for staff that would occur upon the closure of the two schools. These costs will be funded from the School Reorganisation Budget, which is met from the Schools Budget and funded by Dedicated Schools Grant. The LA will work with the school to keep these costs to a minimum; the Essex Formula for Funding Schools supports schools with very low pupil numbers and these costs are represented at 3.11 below.

3.7The revenue funding for the proposed new academy opening from September 2010 onwards, which transfers from Dedicated Schools Grant, will be equal to the delegated budget for the school (excluding any individually assigned Special Educational Needs (SEN) resources)that an authority would have calculated through its local formula, had the school stayed in the maintained sector. The LA remains responsible for the funding of statements of SEN. In addition, the DCSF will recoup a share of a number of budgets within the Schools Budget which are retained at the beginning of the financial year. In total the deduction could be in the order of £30,000 to £50,000 in a full year.

3.8As a result of the closure of SirCharlesLucasArtsCollege, any accumulated surplus or deficit at 31 August 2010 will remain with the Local Authority. In order to ensure that the school is able to manage its resources effectively through the transition, an “in principle” agreement has been arrived at through the Schools Forum, Cabinet Member and DCSF, which would allow for the LA to transfer any accumulated surplus to the Academy at 31 August 2010.

3.9Currently, broadband connectivity is funded by the LA. Responsibility for meeting this cost will transfer to the Academy. This may result in a saving to the LA of around £10,000.

3.10The Council will be required to meet any staff severance costs for the dismissal of staff from SirCharlesLucasArtsCollegeup to the date of transfer and these costs would be met from within existing budget provision. However, given the application of the TUPE Regulations the risk of extensive costs being incurred is small. In addition, the DCSF has confirmed that funding is available to help address any particular issues in relation to staff transfers and other set up costs.

3.11For funding purposes, the pupil numbers at Alderman Blaxill and TLA for 2009-10 were 365 and 666 respectively. As these numbers decline through to closure, support for the schools will be provided through the small school protection factor of:

2010-11 / 2011-12 / 2012-13 / 2013-14 / 2014-15 / 2015-16
Nos. / £,000 / Nos. / £,000 / Nos. / £,000 / Nos. / £,000 / Nos. / £,000 / Nos. / £,000
AB / 333 / 149 / 292 / 195 / 223 / 239 / 168 / 273 / 112 / 309 / 56 / 143
TLA / 616 / 0 / 609 / 0 / 490 / 70 / 357 / 154 / 238 / 229 / 119 / 127
Additional cost over 2009-10 / 20 / 46 / 160 / 279 / 389 / 208

3.12There will be a ‘saving’ to the Schools Budget in the order of £920,000 per annum (lump sums, small school protection and rent and rates budgets) following the closure of Alderman Blaxill and TLA in 2015. This may be redistributed to all schools.

3.13Taken together, the proposals to close Alderman Blaxill and TLA schools will lead to additional costs: home to school transport (ongoing); the effect of closing the schools as year groups complete their statutory education; and the possibility of redundancy costs.

3.14The case will be made that these proposals whilst incurring additional transport costs and redundancy costs will ultimately lead to longer term savings to the Schools Budget. The Schools Forum has executive powers to agree or not agree that these costs be met from the Schools Budget. Taking additional costs and savings together, any ongoing savings are unlikely to be available until around 2019-20. Should the Forum choose not to agree then the LA would have the right to appeal the decision to the Secretary of State. These proposals will be referred to the Schools Forum at its meeting of 14 October 2009.

4.Corporate Governance

4.1This paper deals with complex statutory proposals and as such does not raise specific governance issues.It is important that the procedural requirements of the legislation have been fulfilled and that the Decision Maker gives due regard to the Guidance in order to effect the process and the final decision successfully.

4.2Section 3 above outlines the significant capital and revenue financial issues. It is important that appropriate resources are identified for these areas of spend.

5.Human Resources Implications

5.1There will be Human Resources implications arising from the closure of the two schools. The County Council is experienced in supporting schools during transition arrangements. There would be a requirement for teachers and support staff at the two schools proposed for closure until August 2015. There are also likely to be opportunities for staff at some of the other schools it is proposed to enlarge and potentially also at the proposed vocational centre. Additional youth and community facilitieswhich the County Council would like to see developed in the area could also provide opportunities for staff.

5.2Essex Schools HR Advice & Support Service has taken part in the formal consultation meetings with staff and governors at Alderman Blaxill, TLA and Sir Charles Lucas (staff meeting only) schools. Issues covered have included strategies to avoid compulsory redundancies and, where applicable, transfer (TUPE) rights to an academy. HR has also met with all Colchester secondary heads to offer support with HR strategies to establish future deployment of staff. The schools in question are, however, locally managed establishments, responsible for their own HR decisions and with free choice about where they purchase their HR services. All of those schools currently use Essex as their preferred provider and Essex HR is keen to provide quality, effective and timely support.The optionswillcontinue to be explored, particularly once transition arrangements are initiated following a final decision on the proposals.

6.Risk Implications

6.1The delivery of the proposal requires the agreement of the DCSF to bring forward BSF funding in Colchester to Wave 6. This has been confirmed by PfS. See section 3.1 and the e mail from PfS appended to the Full Proposals.

7.Information Services Implications

7.1There will be significant investment in IT provision in the new premises as part of the BSF capital investment. It is envisaged that the Colchester schools will benefit from the managed ICT service that is currently under discussion as part of the Authority’s initial BSF negotiations. There are no other direct IS implications for the Council.

8.Background to the proposal

8.1The full background to the proposals and the consultation processes is set out in the report to Cabinet on 31 March 2009, which is identified as a background document to this report.

9.Congestion Impact

9.1The closure of two schools and expansion of others has the potential to have an impact on congestion, although the law on transport set out in the 1996 Education Act states that it is reasonable to expect children of secondary school age to walk up to three miles to and from school each day accompanied as necessary by an adult. The law also now provides that children from low income families (those entitled to free school meals or in receipt of maximum working tax credit) be provided with free transport to one of the three nearest secondary schools to their home address providing that is between 2 and 6 miles from the home.

9.2Analysis shows that a significant proportion of children from the area currently served by TLA will in future be entitled to free home to school transport to their newly designated schools under the proposed new admission arrangements (see 3.2 – 3.5 above). This, together with improved access ways to Philip Morant from the Alderman Blaxill area for pupils living under 2 miles has the potential to reduce some of the existing individual transport arrangements made by parents. A minority of students attending AldermanBlaxillSchool following the reorganisation will be entitled to transport under our extended rights to free travel policy for low income families.Although the majority of students will not be entitled to transport assistance, we will be looking at alternative ways of supporting sustainable school travel to this school by working closely with Philip Morant and the Colchester Cycle Town Project Group