Agenda item

Schools Capital Programme

To provide an update on the School’s Capital Programme for Special Education Needs (SEND), Alternative Provision (AP) and mainstream school places.

To provide an update on the School’s Capital Planned Maintenance (SCPM) programme.


The Education Business Manager introduced the report to the Panel. He explained that there was now a changing nature to the Schools Capital Programme because our pupil numbers have plateaued and we therefore receive a low allocation of funding in terms of the basic need element.


He added that the Council is still responsible for maintenance for the four remaining maintained non-VA schools and has a budget of £179,000 for any such works.


He stated that the big change has been the increased allocation of SEND funding which has been primarily linked to financial pressures being faced and that this has enabled the SEND Capital Strategy to be put in place for more local provision to be allocated.


He added that an agreement was in place for a new Free Special School and they were awaiting a decision on whether a new Alternative Provision School within B&NES will be approved. He said that further projects were also detailed within the report.


Councillor Paul Crossley commented that the additional SEND funding was excellent for our disadvantaged children and young people. He asked how the size of the projects listed in sections 3.7 and 3.8 were decided, whether the sites were to come from existing Council owned land and if there was enough funding in place for these specific projects.


The Education Business Manager replied that the SEND Small School with Residential unit is planned to hold 16 residential placements and around an additional 20 day placements and therefore was not on a large scale. He added that they were in the process of assessing if there were any local sites available for refurbishment. He stated that the funding received is very welcome, but there would still be a challenge to complete the project with the allocated funds.


Councillor Crossley asked if B&NES children would have a priority over the allocated places at these new provisions.


The Education Business Manager replied that they would not as place allocation can’t be controlled on that basis and that if pupils from other Local Authorities applied and were allocated a place it would have to be honoured. He added that across the South West of England, through the SEND Capital Strategy, multiple Free Schools are being built in a number of locations in collaboration with the DfE.


Kevin Burnett asked for clarification that the mainstream projects were all being funded through either Section 106 agreements or Government grants.


The Education Business Manager replied that all the projects listed were being funded through Government grants or a Section 106 agreement apart from the Bath College, Somer Valley Campus, Radstock Residential Unit which was to be funded (£4m) through Council borrowing paid for by savings from existing costs.


Kevin Burnett asked if further investigations were expected to take place on school sites within B&NES with regard to RAAC. He asked if the expenditure on these investigations nationally would have any effect on future funding provision.


The Education Business Manager replied that it has been stated that any funding that has already been allocated and notified will be retained, but we don’t know at this stage what the impact will be on any future allocations. He added that as far as he was aware there is no RAAC within schools within B&NES, but said further investigations are to be carried out in the four maintained non-VA schools.


The Director of Education & Safeguarding added that he was aware that MATs were also being advised to carry out further investigations following the latest advice from the DfE. He stated that the Council are not responsible for the condition or day to day running of those buildings.


The Chair asked for both of the Cabinet Members associated with the Panel to provide an update in due course following the completion of any investigations.


Councillor Liz Hardman asked if the former Culverhay site was being considered as a future site of one of the Free Schools.


The Education Business Manager replied that the site for the Free Special School was being identified by a company named Located, which is part of the DfE, and two possible sites are within the Keynsham area. He added that if the bid for the Alternative Provision School is successful that will be located on the former Culverhay site.


The Panel RESOLVED to note the update provided in the report.

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