Agenda item

Twice Yearly School Places Planning Report


The Executive Director, Education and SEND and Head of School Place Planning and Improvement introduced the update t on School Place Planning.


An overview of the School Place Planning report was provided to the Committee. It was reported that primary rolls had continued the slight decline seen each termly census since May 2019, a total 3.1% decline in three years. Due to this decline in primary rolls, the local authority was liaising with three schools to confirm if Published Admissions Number (PAN) reductions should be proposed in Autumn 2022.


The Committee heard that in secondary schools, the number of children on roll had increased in line with projections. Further work was underway on the future planning to meet the forecast need for additional secondary school places and to ensure there would be sufficient secondary Year 7 places. The Committee also heard about the special schools, Department for Education(DfE) and Priority School Building Programme 2 Projects and the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) deficit recovery safety valve agreement, DSG projects and the Infant and Junior Amalgamation Policy.


During Member discussions, it was confirmed that further clarification on Lady Banks school capacity would be provided to Members.


In response to questions around the infant and junior amalgamation, it was noted that headteachers usually left due to retirement or pursing other careers routes. It was confirmed that although there was a decrease in primary school intakes, the forecast for future planning always took into account any potential spikes such as Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children and schools were welcome to new arrivals in the Borough. The number of programs taking place with school buildings and expansions was also noted. The Bishop Arden free school development was currently on pause pending review on how to proceed and whether there would still be a need for additional secondary schools places.


The DfE had a recommendation that Councils should hold at least 5% of unfilled spaces and it was noted that in Hillingdon this had been well below the threshold. This year there was a ‘wriggle room’ of 3.4% of unfilled places at year seven and it was noted that there was now a use of bulge classes to fulfil the statutory duty.


Clarification was sought on whether the location of the possible new school in the North of the Borough was going to solve the issue of getting good quality school places in the South of the Borough. It was explained that the reason for the 3.4% ‘wriggle room’ may have been due to schools wanting more children in their schools as this impacted school budget. Whilst the 5% ‘wriggle room’ was not a statutory requirement and only a recommendation, some Members considered that this matter did not involve budgets and to have a reasonable amount of choice there needed to be a five percent ‘wriggle room’ of unfilled places.


It was noted that the development in Harlington School would improve the offer in the South of the Borough. Further updates would be provided on the Bishop Arden project.


RESOVLED: That the Committee noted the update and action underway to support parents and schools and questioned officers about the update.

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