Agenda item

Determination proposal to permanently expand Princess Frederica CE Primary School by September 2014

This report informs the Executive of the outcome of the statutory proposal to alter Princess Frederica Church of England Primary School through permanent expansion from September 2014 and recommends that it be approved.

Decision:

(i)         that the permanent expansion of Princess Frederica C of E Primary School by one form of entry from September 2014 is not approved at this time on the grounds of the extent of the impact of the currently proposed scheme on play space at the school during construction pending the adoption by the Executive of a new School Places Strategy;

(ii)        that the hard work of school staff, the governing body of the school and the diocese in having worked with council officers on this challenging expansion scheme be recognised, assuring the school of the council’s ongoing commitment to working in partnership;

(iii)       that a new School Places Strategy be developed in 2014 to provide a up-to-date and robust framework for school expansion decisions and that the expansion of the school be reconsidered in 2015 in the light of need and this new framework.

Minutes:

The report from the Acting Director of Children and Families and Strategic Director of Regeneration and Growth informed the Executive of the outcome of the statutory proposal to alter Princess Frederica Church of England Primary School through permanent expansion from September 2014 and recommended that it be approved.

 

In response to deputations earlier in the meeting, the Chair (Councillor Butt, Leader of the Council) stated that the council was in the middle of a school expansion programme, with £110M to be spent on primary schools. Children had a right access a school place and to have the opportunity, through quality education, to be good, productive citizens. The expansion programme would continue and the council would work with governors and parents across the borough.

 

Councillor Pavey (Lead Member, Children and Families) referred to the council’s duty to provide high quality school places and progress made, despite shortage of funding. He paid tribute to the campaigners and the high quality of responses to the consultation. He accepted the view that Princess Frederica School was situated on a constrained site, there were other schools in the vicinity that could be better placed and felt the council should pause and consider the justification for pursuing Princess Frederica at this time. Councillor Pavey proposed that the recommendations in the Directors’ report should be rejected, the council should await the production of a new school places strategy and then take a strategic review of the position on school place provision.

 

Councillor Crane (Lead Member, Regeneration and Major Projects) spoke in support of proceeding with the expansion proposals as the report from the Directors made clear the proposals were in keeping with central government guidance, the school had a waiting list and was very popular. He reminded the Executive of the statutory obligation to provide school places and the need to bear in mind those parents that did not have a school place for their children. Councillor Crane questioned why Princess Frederica should be treated differently to any other school that had expanded many of whom had traffic problems and were in densely populated areas. The borough did not have alternatives locations and, if approved, concerns raised would be dealt with as apart from the planning process.

 

Councillor A Choudry (Lead Member for Crime Prevention and Public Safety) and Councillor R Moher (Lead Member, Resources) emphasised the importance of the council making every effort to provide school places for children who were on the waiting list for schools in this and other areas. Councillor Denselow (Lead Member, Customers and Citizens) while acknowledging the need to provide school places, supported the rejection of the expansion proposals and for efforts to be made to bring the community together. The Chair referred to the many children who had to travel across the borough to schools due to the shortage of places. He stated that he had listened to all views carefully and regretted the anxiety felt by some parents. While acknowledging the significance of going against officer recommendations he supported the proposal put forward by Councillor Pavey to reject the expansion proposals, devise a new school places strategy and to work with community and bring forward a revised scheme. He thanked the school and the Diocese for their leadership and support of the original proposals.

 

RESOLVED:

 

(i)         that the permanent expansion of Princess Frederica C of E Primary School by one form of entry from September 2014 is not approved at this time on the grounds of the extent of the impact of the currently proposed scheme on play space at the school during construction pending the adoption by the Executive of a new School Places Strategy;

 

(ii)        that the hard work of school staff, the governing body of the school and the diocese in having worked with council officers on this challenging expansion scheme be recognised, assuring the school of the council’s ongoing commitment to working in partnership;

 

(iii)       that a new School Places Strategy be developed in 2014 to provide a up-to-date and robust framework for school expansion decisions and that the expansion of the school be reconsidered in 2015 in the light of need and this new framework.

Supporting documents: