Agenda item

Education Capital


6.1      Gareth Vine, Joint Head of Service for Education Planning & Infrastructure, presented a report on Education Capital.  The Forum noted the revised annual budget for the 2024/25 Schools capital programme was £14.170M.  The financial year spend as at the end of July 2023 was £2.609M.


6.2      The Forum received an update on the key specialist development activities that were underway in order to meet the growing demand for special school places.  The Forum noted that:


Ø   The Sladewood Primary Special School, in Stroud, a new 60-place special school for primary aged children with Moderate and Additional Learning Difficulties opened its doors at the start of this term. 

Ø   Following the unsuccessful free school bids seeking 400 additional places, plans were in place to use capital funding to deliver a 200-place special school.  It would be built on land owned by the County Council, which was allocated for education purposes, at Wheatridge East in Abbeydale in Gloucester.  Subject to planning approval, it was planned for the new school to open in 2026.  The local authority would shortly be launching a competition to identity a suitably experienced Academy Trust to run the new school.

Ø   The new 20 place primary Social, Emotional and Mental Health provision at the Heart of the Forest Community Special School, was due to be handed over at the end of September 2023.


6.3      In the mainstream sector, the new primary school - Greenacres Primary Academy located in Bishop’s Cleeve, would be part of the Gloucestershire Learning Alliance MAT and was required to meet the additional growth in the area from September 2025.  The plans for the new school, Greenacres Primary Academy, were delayed due to a deferral of the decision on the planning application over concerns regarding parent parking and access issues.


6.4      The Forum was informed that as part of the local authority’s annual School Capacity return to the DfE, which collected information on the demand and supply of mainstream school places, the local authority was required to include data relating to the demand and supply for special school places in Gloucestershire. It was therefore anticipated that the local authority would secure further basic need capital in the future to deliver additional special school places.


6.5      The impact of the global economic downturn was continuing to increase supply chain costs of some key materials on projects of up to 40%.  This was having an impact on the cost of schemes which the local authority was seeking to address with schools and contractors and assess the need for mitigation measures to ensure continuity of school provision.


6.6      In response to a question, the Joint Head of Service for Education Planning & Infrastructure, explained that officers had been evaluating all local authority maintained schools which fell within the criteria for potentially having Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC).  Approximately 4-5 schools had been identified as needing a more detailed survey undertaken, and these were being managed by GCC’s Asset Management and Property Services surveyors working with the schools to arrange for the surveys to be carried out.  He explained that the general feeling was that the presence of RAAC in schools across the Southwest was significantly less than in other areas of the country, where higher incidents have been confirmed.


6.7      The Forum noted the report.

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