1) additional funding of £6.9m be approved;
2) the provision of a contingency of £3.36m be approved;
3) the progress made by the project be noted;
4) the risks to the opening of the school and the contingency plans put in place be noted;
5) authority be delegated to the Director Finance and Resources to forward fund the project through short term borrowing of £7.5m in 15/16;
6) how the shortfall and contingency will be funded, as set out in paragraph 2.7 of the report, be noted.
The Executive considered a report relating to the proposed new Secondary School in the South of Wokingham including a request for additional funding and an update on the progress of the project.
The Executive Member for Children’s Services went through the report and explained that when the project was first agreed by the Executive in 2014 the scheme was based on a basic three storey Department for Education design and it made certain assumptions about a number of different things including: foundations; basic external finishing of the building eg flat roofs etc; and also the fittings and fixtures within the building.
Since then a lot of work has been carried out to consider the community needs as well as the educational needs for the building. As a result of this work, which was informed by the Parent Reference Group, the scheme has been uplifted to take into account a much larger sports facility and enhancements to the design of the building including: breakout spaces along the corridors which equates to the equivalent of six additional classrooms which would provide more flexible teaching spaces; two large barn constructions in the centre areas which would provide an improved environment for school use and community use when the building was not being used by the school; and enhanced facilities for a much larger school accommodating 1,500 pupils eg kitchen and science areas. As part of the enhanced sports facilities there would be a full size all-weather pitch with floodlighting which would allow competitive league matches to take place.
Members queried whether the additional spend would mean that other schools would have their capital funding removed. Councillor Haitham Taylor confirmed that there was £2m included in the capital budget for other school improvements. It was noted that schools, academies and free schools also had other routes they could use to apply for funding.
It was noted that in addition £3.36m, from basic need money, had been put aside as contingency for the project. It was not expected to have to use the contingency therefore if it was not required it would be used for other educational purposes.
Councillor Ross queried what the designated area of the new school would be as concerns had been raised by some of the residents in his ward who believed that the catchment area would spread to Wokingham Without. Councillor Haitham Taylor confirmed that all the interested providers had stated their intention to have the same designated area as currently applies to Forest, Holt, Emmbrook and St Crispins. There would be no change for Wokingham Without parents at this time however at some point in the future the school may wish to establish it’s own designated area and change it slightly but this would require Secretary of State approval.
The meeting noted that a lot of the changes that had resulted in the additional funding being required had been put forward by the Parent Reference Group who had played a key part in deciding what was best for the ... view the full minutes text for item 13