Agenda item

Implementation of the New Special Free School in Havering

Decision:

Cabinet:

 

  1. APPROVED the new special free school to be sited on St Edward’s Church  of England Academy site, London Road, Romford RM7 9NX

 

  1. APPROVED additional funding to Unity Schools Partnership Trust for remedial works needed at St Edward’s Church of England Academy as a result of using part of the School building for the purpose of a new free school:

 

·       Re-provision of the music block - £800,000

 

Minutes:

The Implementation of the New Special Free School in Havering report was presented to Cabinet by Councillor Robert Benham, Cabinet Lead Member for Education, Children & Families.

 

The Local Authority projected a continued increase in the number of pupils being assessed as having more complex Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), however the growth in SEND numbers was increasing at a faster rate than forecasted.  As such, it was not possible to accommodate the increase at existing facilities, so a new site and building was required.

 

In November 2016, the Local Authority submitted an expression of interest to the Department for Education (DfE) for a new special school in Havering.  In April 2017, the DfE notified Havering that their bid had been successful.  In March 2018, following the completion process, the DfE announced that Samuel Ward Academy Trust, now known as Unity Schools Partnership Trust, had been successful.

 

During the DfE’s feasibility process, it became apparent that the original site proposed for the school, Century Youth House in Albert Road, Romford was too small to deliver the school.  A lack of suitable site would have risked the entire project, so an analysis of alternative sites was undertaken.  The results of this analysis identified the Gaynes secondary school site as the preferred option, and so the DfE conducted a further feasibility study of the Gaynes site.  The results of this study showed that whilst there was sufficient site at Gaynes to accommodate the new special free school, there would need to be significant remedial costs to ensure that Gaynes had sufficient accommodation for their pupils, at a cost of c£2.1m.  Therefore, it was decided to seek a further alternative site. 

 

In April 2018, St Edward’s Church of England Academy joined the Unity Schools Partnership Trust, so once the Gaynes site had been discounted, it was decided that a potential further alternative option would be investigated, siting the new special free school on the St Edward’s Church of England Academy site, as both shared the same Academy Trust.

 

An initial feasibility report identified that it would be possible to accommodate the new special free school on the St Edward’s Church of England Academy site by demolishing block B, the music block at the front of the site, and re-providing the music block, either via a new build block or re-providing the music block within existing accommodation.  The Council has to compensate the Academy for the loss of the music block, which was estimated at £800k.  However, the compensation was deemed to be good value for money, as the estimated cost for the new special free school was £8.5m, which was coming from the DfE.

 

This option was recommended to Cabinet as it would release the site area required to enable the new special free school to be built on the St Edward’s Church of England Academy site in an area separate from the main Academy building, whilst resulting in no loss of provision for the Academy, through the re-provision of the music facilities.

 

The new special free school would provide provision for 60 places for individuals aged 3 – 16 years old.

 

Following discussion,

 

Cabinet:

 

  1. APPROVED the new special free school to be sited on St Edward’s Church  of England Academy site, London Road, Romford RM7 9NX

 

  1. APPROVED additional funding to Unity Schools Partnership Trust for remedial works needed at St Edward’s Church of England Academy as a result of using part of the School building for the purpose of a new free school:

 

·         Re-provision of the music block - £800,000

 

Supporting documents: