To receive and consider the Growth Fund update report.
Piers Brunning, Senior Specialist (People and Place) Strategy and Commissioning presented the Growth Fund update report.
Piers Brunning stated that the overall Growth Fund position had not changed since it was last reported to School Forum. There was a projected underspend of £270. The planned programme of spend and contingency budget could both be funded from within the allocated £800k. However, there had been changes to how the money was being spent.
Piers Brunning informed that Shinfield West Primary was not going to open this September, it was planned to open in September 2020.
Piers Brunning stated that Highwood Primary opened a new Year 2 class earlier in the year in response to an acute shortage of Year 2 places. Beechwood Primary also accelerated their expansion and 15 additional Year 4 places were now available, alleviating some of the pressure.
Piers Brunning stated that surplus primary places were scattered around the Borough, however it was preferable to offer local school places to families, as failing do so caused pressures in other areas such as in the school transport budget.
During the discussion of the item the following comments were made:
· Derren Gray asked about the figure of 25 places for Colleton Primary. Piers Brunning explained that Colleton Primary was in the final phase of its expansion so they would cease to appear in the Growth Fund paper;
· In response to a question Piers Brunning stated that schools were funded according to the level of expansion;
· Paul Miller stated that it would be useful to include a ‘variance’ column to show the movement between the budget and the current expected spend;
· Paul Miller stated that where it said Note: in Appendix A (page 37) with a double asterisk, the sentence was incomplete;
· Piers Brunning believed that the note referred to Charvill Piggott. He stated that Charvill Piggott had had the same challenges of any new school, however the mechanism used to establish it was a change of age to the main school;
· In response to a question, Piers Brunning stated that the Council was working on a new Growth programme. Two other primary schools were planned to open in 2021, one was Matthews Green and the other was in Arborfield. The contractor for these two schools went into administration earlier this year and work stopped in those sites. It was presumed that new contracts would be let, so initial pre-opening grant payments would be required. It was expected that those schools would open in 2021. The Council was also considering expanding a local school in Arborfield;
· Piers Brunning stated that the Council was evaluating the need for extra capacity, it seemed that the number of new house builds was counterbalanced by the lower birth rate, so there was not a huge need for extra capacity for primary schools at the moment. Also a projection for the need for secondary schools was currently being considered, however he believed no extra capacity was currently needed;
· Piers stated that the next Growth Fund Budget, ... view the full minutes text for item 58