The report of the Interim Strategic Director of Children’s Services (Document “AH”) updates the Committee on a number of key areas related to school organisation in the Bradford District.
That the Committee notes Document “AH”.
(Marium Haque - 01274 431078)
The report of the Interim Strategic Director of Children’s Services (Document “AH”) updated the Committee on a number of key areas related to school organisation in the Bradford District.
Members were provided with the following updated information on the Capital allocation from the Department for Education (DfE):
School Condition Allocation - £3,004,603.13 with a further £1,508,523 for Voluntary Aided (VA) Schools
Devolved Formula Capital (DFC) - £744,382 with a further £259,374 for Voluntary Aided (VA) Schools
It was noted that 95 schools had converted to academies and that 6 were in the process of conversion, most of which would complete their conversion in June or July 2019. Conversions to academies had slowed down.
The following comments and questions were made by members of the Committee and responses given:
· What was the impact of the local authority having less influence on where schools were located? Academies were involved closely when pupil place planning was undertaken. The level of consultation on free schools had improved since they were first introduced.
· Schools were being built in the city centre where children did not live, was there a transport plan in place? Sites were investigated and their feasibility would take account of accommodation and transport, particularly if there was a need to ease pressure on places.
· Ward members needed information on school places in their area. It was agreed to provide this information.
· How much of the £3.6m allocated to increase the Planned Admission number at Low Ash Primary school had been spent before the decision was halted? £50,000 had been spent on architects and structural engineers fees but this would not be lost, as the scheme had been deferred and would be implemented at a future date. The scheme would not have to go back to planning unless there was a material change to it. At the time that deferring the scheme was considered, there were no more applications for places than the previous year. There was no indication that parental preference this year would exceed previous years, although it was noted that primary offer day was 16 April 2019.
· A member referred to instances where a pupil did not get a place at their local school and could not afford to travel to the allocated school. In response it was noted that the Local Authority had to have arrangements regarding assistance with transport.
· A member referred to the reduction in primary school numbers and asked about predicted primary school numbers in future years. It was noted that the reduction was a national one, as the birth rate had plateaued and that Bradford’s figures reflected those nationally. The number of pupils attending schools outside the District and vice versa had remained the same as in previous years.
· How significant was the issue of air pollution and the effect on health in determining the location of city centre sites of new schools and what mitigation was put in place? Environmental Health was a statutory consultee in the planning process, they would raise issues and suggest mitigation regarding design and possible layout of buildings.
· If a city centre school was built where children did not live then journey times would increase, was it possible to model this? If a parent chose a school that was not the local school they were not eligible for assistance with travel, if the local school was not available and a pupil had to travel over 3 miles the Local Authority had to provide assistance.
· A member gave an example of a child that attended a local school then moved house and had to travel to school and asked whether they would qualify for assistance with travel. In response it was noted that the School Transport Team used a model to calculate distance of travel. Members requested that they be provided with this model.
· Schools should be built where children live rather then requiring children to travel to school. When a Local Authority identified a lack of school places the places were provided using Local authority capital. Free schools capital funding was provided through the DfE. The Local authority had to take account of where free schools were built.
· Who identified the availability of land for schools? Children’s Services retained areas of land for future use and the Department of Regeneration worked on land availability in the District.
(1) That Document “AH” be noted.
(2) That members of the Committee be provided with the model used to calculate assistance with travel from home to school.
ACTION: Interim Strategic Director of Children’s Services