Report of the Head of Planning, Transportation and Environment (PTE/20/26) on the approval of Capital funding and commencement of the free school presumption process for the proposed new Okehampton Special School, attached.
An Impact Assessment was also available for the attention of Members at this meeting.
(Councillors Ball, Biederman, Connett and Hannaford attended remotely in accordance with Standing Order 25(2) and the Local Authorities and Police and Crime Panels (Coronavirus) (Flexibility of Local Authority and Police and Crime Panel Meetings) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020 and spoke to this item).
The Cabinet considered the Report of the Head of Planning, Transportation and Environment (PTE/20/26) circulated prior to the meeting in accordance with regulation 7(4) of the Local Authorities (Executive Arrangements) (Meetings and Access to Information) (England) Regulations 2012.
The Report sought to obtain the necessary approvals to establish a new Special School through the Department for Education’s Free School Presumption Process on land at East Okehampton Business Park, approval of capital and revenue funding to provide the new school, approval of the appropriation of land and delegated powers to the Head of Planning, Transportation and Environment.
The Report highlighted the context in relation to the demand for Special Education provision, complex needs, the offer of flexible provision, demographic change, inward migration and house building. The need for new provision was outlined in the SEND Strategic Review 2017/18 and in March 2018, Cabinet approved the Strategic Review of Special Needs Places (CS/18/10). Whilst significant progress had been made, demand still outstripped supply and a gap in provision had been identified along the A30 corridor (east of Exeter).
An opportunity had arisen to secure land already in the Council’s ownership to bring forward a new special school in Okehampton subject to gaining planning consent.
The proposal was that the new Special Needs School would provide 80-100 places for pupils with Social, Emotional and Mental Health/Autistic Spectrum needs for primary and secondary aged students. The site was shown edged in red on the plan at Appendix 1 to the Report and formed part of East Okehampton Business Park, with easy access to the strategic road network.
The illustration within the Report showed the number of children with an EHCP with a primary need of SEMH, ASD or SLCN (1099) living within a 20 mile radius of the proposed school site.
Under Section 6A of the Education and Inspections Act 2006, the Local Authority was under a duty to seek proposals to establish an academy/free school under the free school presumption process. There was a delegated Cabinet Member decision in March 2020 to proceed to the initial consultation and approval to proceed to the formal process of seeking a sponsor was now sought. The statutory process included advertising for a sponsor, assessment of applications and making a recommendation to the Regional Schools Commission (RSC) on the Council’s preferred sponsor.
The new school was planned to be operational by September 2023 at the latest, although potentially in 2022.
As required, an initial consultation had been undertaken to gain views on the new special needs school and to inform the specification. The consultation ended on 18th September 2020 and positive responses had been received.
The Local Authority was required to meet the associated capital and pre/post opening costs related to the ... view the full minutes text for item 555