Church End Lower School consultation

Church End Foundation Lower School consultation

Consultation closed: midday on Thursday, 2 February

Description of proposed alteration

We consulted on proposals to expand the number of places available at the Forest End campus of Church End Foundation Lower School, in Marston Moretaine, from 30 places to 60 places within each year group.

A final decision will be made in April and if agreed, the extra places will be introduced on a phased basis with the first in Reception in September 2018.

Evidence of demand for proposed alteration versus need, including results of preliminary consultation

Since 2013, we have commissioned an additional 150 lower school places in Marston Moretaine, required as a result of demographic growth in the area, most significantly due to increases in housing on the Marston Park development on land east of Bedford Road.

The additional lower school places have been provided by the expansion of Church End Foundation Lower School on to a new second campus on land east of Bedford Road. The new campus was phase one of the two-phase expansion, known as the Forest End campus. The new campus opened in September 2014 and now provides up to 150 lower school places.

The School Organisation Plan for Central Bedfordshire Council 2016-2021 forecasts a deficit of lower school places for Marston Moretaine from 2018-2019 of up to one form of entry.

There are no large lower school sites secured through S106 contributions in the village and the anticipated rate of growth in the village’s lower school year groups is also such that a new standalone school would not fill and be revenue efficient for a number of years.

Land has been secured adjacent to the Forest End campus, planned for phase two of the school expansion to meet the local need as occupation of the new housing increased. The additional land will provide the Forest End campus with space to expand to a two-form entry school.

Church End is therefore the preferred school for the proposed expansion due to its location in the area of greatest need, the availability of the land secured through S106 as part of the two-phase proposal and its ‘Good’ Ofsted rating.

As required by the Department for Education, the council consulted interested parties in order to develop this proposal. Stakeholders, who included school governors, staff, and parents/carers, the local parish council, other schools and academies within Central Bedfordshire and Ward Members, were invited to give their feedback regarding the proposed expansion.

Over 82% of those who responded to the preliminary consultation, which ran from 28 September to 2 November 2016, were in favour of the proposal and agreed that more school places were needed to keep pace with the on going housing growth within the village.

Objectives - including how the proposal would increase educational standards and parental choice

The objective of the proposal is to ensure that we can continue to fulfil our statutory duty to provide sufficient school places in this area.

With the governing body of Church End Foundation Lower School, we have carefully considered the expansion of the school and believe that it brings many potential benefits to the school and the local community including:

  • ensuring local children can attend their local school
  • the school will continue to have the same values, ethos and links with the village that currently exist, with the benefit of enabling a wider community to access the school
  • expand and build upon a good school which is already very much part of the community providing the opportunity for the wider and expanding community to benefit
  • improved facilities for the school enabling it to offer a broader curriculum
  • an opportunity to continue to raise standards of attainment, building on existing best practice and extending it to more children

The effect on other schools, academies and educational institutions within the area

We believe that the expansion of the Forest End campus of Church End Foundation Lower School would have little or no effect on other schools within the area.

There are three other lower schools within the Marston Vale pyramid: 

  • Shelton Lower (Marston Moretaine)
  • Thomas Johnson Lower (Lidlington)
  • Houghton Conquest Lower
Shelton Lower is on a constrained site and would not be able to expand without additional land. Thomas Johnson and Houghton Conquest Lower are not in the area of the greatest need.

Project costs and indication of how these will be met

The total cost for the proposed expansion of Church End Foundation Lower School is estimated at £1.7M. It is proposed that six new classrooms would be provided and that the servery would be converted into a fully operating kitchen.

Our New School Places Programme is funded by developer contributions and Basic Need grant income from the Department for Education. The council also continues to ensure that all opportunities are taken to increase income and to seek alternative funding sources for new build and expansions of existing school buildings.

The day to day running costs of school provision are met through revenue funding which is made available to each school as part of the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) and is based primarily on the numbers of pupils attending each school. This increases accordingly within an expanded school and would fund the additional staff and resources that would be required.

Where necessary and where schools and academies are undertaking significant expansion on commission from us, additional revenue support for relevant costs can be accessed on application through the DSG funded Growth Fund established by the Schools Forum.

Capital expenditure within the New School Places Programme is subject to our Code of Financial Governance.

School size

The proposed expansion would increase the capacity of the Forest End campus from 150 to 300 and the total capacity of Church End Foundation Lower School, across both sites, from 450 to 600. The Forest End campus would be grown in stages, commencing with the reception year.

Proposed admission arrangements

There are no proposals to change the admission arrangements for 2017/18 for Church End Foundation Lower School if the Forest End campus is expanded. The admission arrangements are published on the school’s website and include the criteria that will be used to determine how places are allocated if there are more applications for places than the number of places available.

School premises and playing fields

Under the School Premises Regulations all schools are required to provide suitable outdoor space in order to enable physical education to be provided to pupils in accordance with the school curriculum; and for pupils to play outside safely.

The proposed expansion at Forest End would be built on an area of hard play and the additional land secured through S106 as part of the phase two proposal will replace the land lost to the expansion.

Proposed stages for implementation

The additional new places would be introduced on a phased basis with the first additional class for reception children at the Forest End campus opening at the start of the new autumn term in 2018.