Joint Report of the Head of Planning, Transportation and Environment and Head of Education and Learning (PTE17/36) seeking approval to invite expressions of interest to provide a new 210 place primary school (increasing to 420 places) with early years provision to serve the expanding area of Okehampton, attached.
(Councillors Connett and Hannaford attended in accordance with Standing Order 25(2) and spoke to this item).
The Cabinet considered the Joint Report of the Head of Planning, Transportation and Environment and the Head of Education and Learning (PTE/17/36) seeking approval to the process of selecting a provider for a new 210 place primary school (increasing to 420 places) with early years provision to serve the expanding area of Okehampton.
Members were reminded that a decision had been taken previously by the Cabinet Member to seek expressions of interest for a proposer for a new primary school with early years provision from September 2018 and the Head of Service’s Report now submitted provided additional information on timings and funding, seeking endorsement to obtaining contributions from future housing development to enable the proposal to proceed and the submission of a planning application and invitation to tender.
The current West Devon Local Plan and emerging Plymouth & South West Devon Local Plan both confirmed the need for a new primary school in the east of Okehampton to mitigate the impact of development; the principle of a new school in Okehampton had also been incorporated in the County Council’s Education Infrastructure Plan 2016-2033 (Min*86, Cabinet, 12 October 2016).
The Council had previously agreed to commit expected Section 106 contributions through the DfE Basic Needs Grant for the purchase of a school site and assurances had been sought from West Devon Borough Council that further contributions would be required from future developments to support the delivery and expansion of the new school.
Local Authorities could assess proposals against its specification for the new school sponsor and recommend a preferred proposer to the Regional Schools Commissioner who would make the final decision on behalf of the Secretary of State: the Head of Service would determine the Council’s preferred proposer in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Children’s Services and Schools.
The process for the selection of an appropriate proposer would ensure the Council exercised its Public Sector Equality Duty. Prospective proposers would need to commit to the Council’s policies and practices and comply with relevant policies on Admissions, Transport and Special Educational Needs. The Head of Service’s Report referred to the Impact Assessment for this scheme which had been circulated previously – and which would have to be provided to the Secretary of State to meet her duties under the Academies Act - in order that Cabinet might, as part of its determination of the next steps in the process, have full regard to the responsibilities placed upon it to exercise its Public Sector Equality Duty under s149 of the Equality Act 2010, where relevant. That Assessment recognised that the proposal – which was consistent with the Council’s Education Infrastructure Plan - would mean that children in the area would be able to be placed in a local school (in line with the principle of local schools for local children for community and environmental reasons), that other schools would not be disadvantaged by the impact of the new development and that no unmanageable impacts had been identified.
The matter having been debated and the options and/or alternatives and other relevant factors (e.g. financial, 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 McInnes, SECONDED by Councillor Hart, and
(a) that having previously agreed to ‘forward fund’ Section 106 Contributions through Department for Education (DfE) Basic Needs Grant, to purchase a new primary site in Okehampton, approval be now given to complete the full selection process for a New School Proposer for a 210 place primary school with early years provision increasing to 420 places to serve the expanding community of Okehampton;
(b) that approval be also given to the principle of forward funding the new primary school for Okehampton, the submission of a full planning application, and the scheme proceeding to tender stage; and
(c) that Cabinet endorse the view that all future housing development in Okehampton needs to make a fair and proportional contribution to support the delivery of the new school site and buildings.
[NB: The Impact Assessment referred to above may be viewed at: http://new.devon.gov.uk/impact/ or : https://new.devon.gov.uk/impact/new-schools-procedure-june-2017.].