Agenda item

Report of the Head of Planning, Transportation and Environment (PTE/21/34), giving an updated position on the delivery of state funded special school places across the County and seeking financial approval for an existing project at Okehampton Special School and a new start project at Ace Tiverton, attached.

 

There are two Impact Assessments attached for the attention of Members at this meeting on Strategic Pupil Place Planning and School Organisation and the establishment of a new Special School in Okehampton.

Decision:

RESOLVED

 

(a) that the progress in the delivery of additional state funded Special School Places in Devon be noted;

 

(b) that the additional £1.9 million funding to support the revised project cost of £10.7 million for the delivery of the new Okehampton Special School and the rephasing of £800,000 from 2023-24 to 2022-23 be approved; and noting that the additional £1.9 million is to be funded from external grant which is currently within the 2021/22 Capital Programme and will be phased £280,000 in 2021/22, £1.42 million in 2022/23 and £200,000 in 2023/24; and

 

(c) that a new start project at Ace Tiverton Special School at a total cost of £840,000 also be approved, subject to Regional School Approval of Significant Change application.

Minutes:

(Councillors Biederman, Brazil, Dewhirst, Hannaford and Hodgson attended in accordance with Standing Order 25(2) and spoke to this item).

 

The Cabinet considered the Report of the Head of Planning, Transportation and Environment (PTE/21/34), which gave an updated position on the delivery of state funded special school places across the County and sought financial approval for an existing project at Okehampton Special School and a new start project at Ace Tiverton. The Report had been 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 new school in Okehampton was due to open in September 2022 and a total budget of £8.8m had been approved. However, following a detailed analysis of tenders, there had been an identified shortfall of funding totalling £1.9m due to an increased risk element within the tender due to the volatility in the market, costs had increased including materials, a shortage of key skilled labour and changes to the developed design which had resulted in additional floor area required for the ventilation plant.

 

In addition, there had been a delay to the project which was now not expected to be complete until after the Spring half term in February 2023. Officers

continued to work with the Trust to secure temporary accommodation to ensure the school could open in September 2022 as planned.

 

In relation to Ace (Tiverton), an opportunity has arisen to purchase a former adult day centre in Tiverton, adjacent to the Ace Tiverton Special School, which was complete, so there was now a need to complete the detailed design and construction necessary to provide a facility which was required for a special school building.

 

The Report outlined the Consultations that had taken place including the consultation in September 2020 to gain views on the new special school at Okehampton, which had also informed the specification.

 

The new School had been designed to reduce the energy required for both its construction and its ‘in use’ energy consumption. As part of the planning process, consultants had been appointed to undertake a study to understand the environmental whole life carbon performance and its findings analysed to support the design of the building.

 

Two Impact Assessments had been circulated for the attention of Members at the meeting relating to strategic pupil place planning and school organisation and the establishment of a new Special School in Okehampton. The first of these highlighted that the Local Authority had a statutory duty to secure sufficient educational provision in its area, to act as champions for all parents and families and support the most vulnerable children. The second Impact Assessment outlined that the process for the selection of an appropriate proposer would ensure the Council exercised its Public Sector Equality Duty. In addition, prospective proposers would need to commit to Devon’s policies and practices and be required to comply with relevant policies on Admissions, Transport and Special Educational Needs. The proposal was in line with the policies set out in the Education Infrastructure Plan in supporting sustainable, high quality provision that maximised accessibility, met local needs and recognised the needs generated by planned development in specific localities, tackled inequalities for vulnerable pupils but also recognised the needs of a changing population, employment and growth opportunities.

 

Investment in both schools would have a positive equalities impact for pupils requiring more flexible provision.

 

The Cabinet noted that the recommendations would provide an additional 130 special school places to support increasing numbers of Children and Young People with Education, Health and Care plans. The proposals would also support the plan to reduce the calls on the High Needs Block and were an essential part of reducing the funding pressures on the High Needs Block.

 

The matter having been debated and the options and/or alternatives and other relevant factors (e.g. financial, sustainability (including carbon impact), risk management, equality and legal considerations and Public Health impact) set out in the Head of Service’s Report and/or referred to above having been considered:

 

it was MOVED by Councillor Leadbetter, SECONDED by Councillor Hart, and

 

RESOLVED

 

(a) that the progress in the delivery of additional state funded Special School Places in Devon be noted;

 

(b) that the additional £1.9 million funding to support the revised project cost of £10.7 million for the delivery of the new Okehampton Special School and the rephasing of £800,000 from 2023-24 to 2022-23 be approved; and noting that the additional £1.9 million is to be funded from external grant which is currently within the 2021/22 Capital Programme and will be phased £280,000 in 2021/22, £1.42 million in 2022/23 and £200,000 in 2023/24; and

 

(c) that a new start project at Ace Tiverton Special School at a total cost of £840,000 also be approved, subject to Regional School Approval of Significant Change application.

 

(NB: The Impact Assessments referred to above may be viewed alongside Minutes of this meeting and may also be available on the Impact Assessment Webpages).

 

Supporting documents: