Proposal to enlarge the premises of St. Swithun's Voluntary Controlled Lower School
Consultation closed: midday on Thursday, 16 March
Description of proposed alteration
The governing body of St. Swithun’s VC Lower School proposes to enlarge the premises of the school in order to provide additional accommodation, following the schools determination to change from a lower to a primary school.
The governing body intend to build a new learning area to help accommodate year 6 children from September 2018. For this prescribed enlargement of the school premises the Department for Education (DfE) requires the local authority to carry out a statutory consultation. The proposed enlargement is subject to planning permission and to any permission required from the DfE for the ‘change of use for playing field land’.
Evidence of demand for proposed alteration versus need, including results of preliminary consultation
The governing body of St. Swithun’s VC Lower School carried out a non-statutory consultation regarding the proposed change of age range from lower to primary, i.e. from age 3 (nursery) to age 9 (year 4) to age 3 (nursery) to age 11 (year 6). For a proposed change of age range for a voluntary controlled school, the school does not require our permission, nor are we required to undertake a consultation for the proposed change. The governing body is able to propose, consult and then determine the proposal, with us acting only in the capacity of a consultee.
The governing body’s consultation ran from 12 October to 23 November 2016. Consultees invited to provide feedback included school governors, staff, and parents/carers, the local town council, other schools and academies within Central Bedfordshire and our ward members.
Responses to the consultation confirmed that 68% of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed with the proposal.
After careful consideration of the issues raised during the consultation, both in writing and verbally at the stakeholder meetings, the Governing Body of St. Swithun’s VC Lower School unanimously agreed to proceed with an age range change to become a single phase primary age 3 to 11 year old provision for 2017-18. With the first phase being the extension of the upper age range by one year to take Year 5 in September 2017 followed by Year 6 in September 2018.
Objectives - including how the proposal would increase educational standards and parental choice
Within its consultation document for the proposed change of age range from lower to primary school, the governing body summarised what it believed to be the benefits of the proposal:
- to provide for continuation of the curriculum, whereby each phase of education (infant, junior and secondary) teaches at least one, if not two, full key stages and are mutually able to support progress by reducing the number of transition points. With the intention of improving student attainment and progress across all phases
- to engage in greater collaborative working between and among phases with a view to enhancing the sharing of specialist provision
- to sustain high standards of education and maintain the nurture and well-being of children by offering them only the minimum change of schools, thereby ensuring sustained progress in all areas
- to ensure that all of the schools involved in the proposal work positively as partners to ensure a high quality of localised educational provision, with full agreement of each school’s governing body
- to ensure that all of the schools involved in the proposal offer children and young people a broad, balanced and cohesive curriculum that meets the needs of all
- to offer all children and young people an exciting and innovative curriculum provision that meets their needs and supports them in achieving their full potential
- to allow us to track and monitor pupil progress and attainment throughout Early Years, Key Stage 1 and 2 within the same school, building improved accountability for pupil progress within all areas and bringing the school in line with the prevailing system of education across the majority of the UK
- to offer children a further 2 years within a primary model of teaching and learning before moving to a secondary model – meaning fewer daily changes of teacher and environment. This will give pupils time to mature and become ‘Secondary Ready’ in line with the National Curriculum expectation at the end of Year 6
- to drive up standards at the end of Key Stage 2
- to improve parental choice with regard to the variety of options and opportunities that are being offered within the community
- to preserve choice with respect to a Church School or non-Church School preference
- to build upon our strong bond with the local Church community
- to support disadvantaged children in meeting their potential and enhancing their outcomes
In order to accommodate the additional year 6 classes from September 2018, and thereby help provide the benefits listed, the governing body intend to build a new learning area.
The effect on other schools, academies and education institutions in the area
Consultations were also carried out during October/ November 2016 regarding a proposed change from lower to primary for the following schools:
- Everton Lower School
- John Donne C of E Lower School
- Moggerhanger Lower School
- Robert Peel Lower School
Sandy Upper School consulted on a proposal to change from 13-18 years to 11-19 years, in order to create a full secondary provision. And 3 further schools consulted on a proposal to join together to become a multi academy trust: Laburnum Lower School, Maple Tree Lower School and Sandye Place Academy (middle).
Following the closure of the consultations and consideration of the responses received:
- the governing bodies of John Donne C of E Lower, and Robert Peel Lower Schools determined to change from lower to primary from September 2017
- the governing body of Moggerhanger Lower School determined to change from lower to primary from September 2018
- the governing body of Sandy Upper School determined to change from upper to secondary from September 2018
- the governing bodies of Laburnum Lower School, Maple Tree Lower School and Sandye Place Academy determined to place their proposal on hold and to take all of the comments received during the consultation on board to inform their next step
- on 21 March 2017 we will determine a change of age range for Everton Lower School, from September 2017
Of the lower schools that have determined to change their age range, Robert Peel Foundation and John Donne C of E are also required to provide new additional accommodation for year 6 in September 2018. Statutory consultations are therefore also being carried out by us for the prescribed enlargement of Robert Peel Foundation and John Donne C of E lower schools, as required by the DfE.
Now that the proposed age range changes have been determined, the proposed expansion of the schools will have minimal effect on other schools, academies and educational institutions within the area.
Project costs and indication of how these will be met
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 teacher and resources that would be required for the additional children within the expanded school buildings.
Funding required for the new learning area will need to be sourced/ provided by the governing body.
As detailed above, other schools within the Sandy area have consulted on and subsequently determined to change their age range. Two other lower schools, Robert Peel Foundation and John Donne C of E, are required to expand their accommodation from September 2018 for year 6 children.
Education standards and diversity of provision
The new learning area will help provide the accommodation required for year 6 children to remain at St. Swithun’s VC Lower School, which is an Ofsted ‘Good’ school (April 2012). The governing body believes that the change from lower to primary will provide stability and a continuity of learning, and reflect the changing face of schooling in Sandy, the surrounding rural areas and the immediate locality.
Although a number of schools within the Sandy area have determined to change their age range, there are a number of schools that are retaining their current age range; this allows parents to make a choice regarding the learning pathway for their child.
The change of age range from lower to primary will increase the capacity of St. Swithuns VC Lower School from 150 to 210. The new learning area will help the school to accommodate the additional children from September 2018.
Proposed admission arrangements
St. Swithun’s VC Lower School has a published admission number of 30 and even though a change of age range has been determined there are no plans to change this or the admission arrangements for 2017/18. Pupils would have the opportunity to continue into year 5 and year 6 or transfer to middle schools. 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.
St. Swithun's VC Lower School follows and will continue to follow the National Curriculum 2014 for Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2.
Equal opportunity issues
The governing body of St. Swithun’s VC Lower School will continue to meet its proactive public sector equality duty (PSED) which requires them to have due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations.
The proposed expansion would have no affect on any sex, race or disability discrimination issues.
The school would continue to be committed to providing their pupils access to a range of opportunities which reflect the ethnic and cultural mix of the area, ensuring that all such opportunities are open to all.
St. Swithun’s VC Lower School is predominantly white British and therefore ensures that there is a multi-cultural element running throughout the curriculum to provide the children with the opportunity to learn about children from different backgrounds. An understanding of, and respect for, different cultures, faiths and communities is encouraged through both teaching and class trips.
Travel and accessibility
St. Swithun’s VC Lower School will be encouraged to revisit the school’s travel plan in order to develop minimise the effect an increased number of pupils will have upon parking etc. within the local area.
School premises and playing fields
The new learning area will not be built on the school playing fields.
Proposed stages for implementation
The new learning area is needed for September 2018 when year 5 children move up and become year 6.