Agenda item

Draft Education Estates Strategy Update

To receive the draft Education Estates Strategy update which details the Council’s performance in meeting its statutory duty for sufficiency of school places prior to its presentation at Cabinet.






The Interim director of education presented the Draft report which was due to be presented at Cabinet and detailed the following:

  • The mainstream pupil projection of available places vs school capacity and approve the proposed three year school supply strategy.
  • The temporary expansion of Smitham Primary by one form of entry from September 2019.
  • The delegated decision taken by the Executive Director of Children Families and Education , in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Children Young People and Learning to close St Andrew’s CofE High school from August 2020.
  • The updated SEND supply strategy for the next three academic years.
  • Completion of the refurbishment of Cotelands PRU building at John Ruskin College.
  • Croydon commissioned by the EFSA to lead on the delivery of Addington Valley Academy.
  • An update on the partnership with Croydon College on the establishment of local post 16 places.
  • The continued expansion of secondary autism enhanced learning provision at Oasis Arena.
  • The proposed feasibility option regarding Red Gates, St Giles and Priory Special Schools.
  • Update on fire safety works at Croydon community schools
  • The updated Schools’ Maintenance Plan for 2019/20.
  • The updated Capital Programme Spend.
  • The number of children who received their first or top three preference schools for 2018/19 admissions to primary and secondary school.


It was noted that there was limited capacity in the south of borough whilst the north has excess capacity and it was questioned if the LA had the ability to do anything regarding this. Officers said that whilst there were north and south planning of spaces, families could exercise their right to send their children to any school of their choice irrespective of location. This did make school place planning complicated and schools have to make decisions based on forecasts and seek advice on reduction of their PAN but the LA was clear on ensuring provision of enough school places for children in the borough.


A further question was asked on the record of a child’s school journey and it was requested that officers provide a map of excess places. Officers responded that primary school places have to be allocated for children within a certain mileage of their home, this was not always the case with secondary allocation. Children were admitted based on admissions criteria and not catchment. It was agreed that Map of excess school places would be provided to Members.


It was commented that it was important that primary school children were allocated a local school place to enable them to walk to school and if unable to attend a local school, travel provisions to be made. Officers responded that there was enough school places for children to retain a local place but parents were able to make decisions to send their children to schools out of the borough. Children are able to travel for free on buses and trams.


A Member questioned what was being done regarding schools that wanted to admit over their agreed PAN’s due to them being their own admissions authority. Officers responded that relationships with schools were positive and they worked closely with them. The LA were confident in challenging decisions made by schools  due to their strong partnership working and whilst they may not always have the impact or desired outcomes, the opportunity was there to challenge and question decision makers.


It was asked what percentage of pupils secured their first preference schools, officers responded that 64% of pupils secured their first and second preference school and this percentage was higher than many London boroughs. The aspiration was to improve on this percentage each year.


A Member asked if the current Housing Local Plan programme had affected pupil place planning. Officers said that pupil place planning was not compiled on the projections of children that may move into the borough. There was information and intelligence gathered that was taken into consideration in surplus planning of pupil places.


There were concerns raised that if predicted population failed to occur, it would affect the ability of new schools to recruit pupils. Officers acknowledged that there was a percentage of surplice places in the borough. The two new schools in the borough had opening through the free school route. The LA would have to work closely with them to provide support on the ability to recruit pupils.


It was further asked how confident that Addington Valley Academy would be open in line with its proposed timeline. Officers said that whilst it was a free school, they had been working closely with them to identify and provide support on issues, also taking into consideration every eventuality to minimise the effect of any delays on children.


It was highlighted that may children were still travelling to school by car and it was questioned whether alternative school travel could be built into future admissions policies. Officers responded that many schools were their own admissions authority and the Council did not own responsibility for their admissions policy. The LA was however able to encourage and support schools with their school travel plans, with some schools trailing pedestrian only zones and school walking buses schemes which had been successful. The Council was committed to continuing to encourage alternative travel to school.


The Chair commented that the strategy was robust but that in future, information be provided to the sub-committee in a simpler form due to the quantity of information contained in the report. Officers acknowledged that work would be undertaken on future presentation of the report to the sub-committee.


A vote of thanks was extended to the officers in the Education Department and that they were to be commended for their openness and transparency as well as the hard work they do and decisions made in often very difficult circumstances.


Information Request by the Sub-Committee

1. Pictorial map of excess school places in the borough.

2. Data on the number of primary age children that attend schools outside of the borough.


Supporting documents: