SPECIAL REPORT: Northamptonshire needs 31 new schools in next four years

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An ambitious plan to create 12,000 new school places to alleviate intense pressure on schools has been unveiled by Northamptonshire County Council.

The document, part of the Race to the Top strategy, includes details of six new secondary schools and 25 new primary schools which need to be ready to go before September 2020.

These new schools would provide about 10,000 new secondary places and 2,000 new primary places.

The report reveals the location of every planned new school in the county, as well as how many places our existing schools have to add to their intakes in order to ensure every child has a place over the next decade.

Education experts have used population growth data to estimate the number of places needed, although they admit their forecasts are likely to be conservative due to high levels of migration into the county both from abroad and elsewhere in the UK.

Their estimates predict two new, 420-place primary schools would be needed every three months in the county to keep pace with the increase in pupil numbers from migration alone.

The document states: “Of the 39 secondary schools in the county, 25 are full on offer day and the remaining places are available at only one or two schools in most areas.”

In Corby, all the secondary schools are predicted to be full by September next year.

The ambitious building programme will be funded by; central government coffers; the sale of former county council land; individual school budgets; NCC loans or reserves; funds set up to help build academies and by section 106 funding from developers who pay the local authority a sum to help provide infrastructure.

It is also expected that the authority will use commercial premises to help fill the gap. It is converting the former Post Office Sorting Office in Barrack Road, Northampton, the only project of its scale in the country, to provide a 2,200-place school for children aged four to 19.

Stirling House office block in Northampton is also being run as an annex to an existing primary school and youngsters in Corby have been going to school in a converted warehouse on the Earlstrees Industrial Estate while other accommodation is being built.

Special school numbers are rising at an even faster rate with pupil numbers increasing by 33 per cent for primary and 22 per cent secondary since 2010.

Specific pressures on SEND provision have been identified at Friars School in Wellingborough, where it is planned to open an annex in Rushden to allow shorter journey times for people living there. A pre-exclusion unit and exclusion facility for primary school pupils is planned in Corby.

A Northamptonshire County Council spokesman said: “Northamptonshire is experiencing unprecedented growth in pupil numbers through a combination of the increasing birth rate, inward migration and housebuilding, yet we have risen to the challenge of providing more school places in our county over the past few years and will continue to do so.

“We know that we will need 25 new primary schools and six secondary schools in Northamptonshire by 2020 and we are working closely with partners, including the Education Funding Agency, academy trusts, free school providers and borough and district councils to create the new school places where they are needed.

“Our School Organisation Plan looks at the future needs of Northamptonshire as a whole and is open for consultation until the end of this term. Applications for individual new schools will be subject to the usual planning process as they’re submitted and will also be open for public consultation.”

All borough and district council have been asked to respond to the consultation. Members of Corby Council’s Local Plan Committee met last week to discuss the proposals. Committee member Cllr Mark Pengelly said: “The county council say that the primary allocation in Corby is sorted because of the James Ashworth Free School, which we know is not now happening.

“What we see here is the county council completely out of step with what’s actually happening in our towns.

“There’s been no consultation with communities or local councillors about the sites proposed in the plan.

“How can they make a decision about a school with no consultation? It’s like throwing darts in a map.

“The report says that there is a secondary school going to be built at a site ‘south of Corby’ but we know there’s no obvious land there. When we pushed the officers it turned out this site was at the Stanion Plantation off Geddington Road.

“That’s fine if you have a 4x4 but we know that we need schools in our communities that children can walk to.”

Northampton (town)

Northampton primary schools currently have 18,131 places, but this is predicted to rise to 19,554 by 2020/21. Two new free schools will open in September 2016. It is expected that the actual increase in pupils will be much higher due to people moving into the town and new housebuilding. The expected pupil numbers could increase by 4,000. There are currently 11,798 secondary places which will increase to 14,471 by 2020/21.

Plans include:

A new two-form entry primary to serve Pineham Barns and other associated developments to open in September 2017.

A new two-form entry primary at the Upton Lodge Sustainable Urban Expansion due to open in 2020.

A new two-form entry primary to service Dallington Grange due to open in September 2020.

A new two-form entry primary to serve Upton Park to open in September 2020.

A new two-form entry primary to serve Northampton West to open in September 2020.

NCC is also looking into how best to provide more places in Duston.

There is a free school proposal from Kingsthorpe College for a new two-form entry primary to serve the Kingsthorpe area.

NCC is conducting feasibility studies at sites around the town to create new provision at a free school funded by the Education Funding Agency.

A site has been reserved at Dallington Grange for a 1,500-place secondary school.

A 1,500-place secondary school to be built to serve various Upton developments.

Daventry

There are currently 6,368 primary places in Daventry and there are forecast to be 6,588 places by 2020/21. There will be an extra 210 places at Moulton Primary from September 2016. Secondary places will increase from 4,304 in this academic year, to 4,534 in 2020/21.

Plans include:

A new 315-place primary to serve the Monksmoor development in Daventry to open in September 2017.

A new 420-place primary to serve Overstone Leys due to open in September 2018.

A new 420-place primary to serve Buckton Fields expected by September 2018.

A new 420-place primary to serve Micklewell Park expected to open by September 2019.

A new 420-place primary to serve the Churchfields development expected by September 2020.

Increase capacity at Moulton School (secondary) by 150 pupils.

Expansion at Guilsborough School is also a possibility, paid for by section 106 developer contributions.

In the longer term, a new school may be built in Daventry town to cater for pupils from the Churchfields development.

South Northamptonshire

There are currently 9,709 primary places in South Northants, with numbers predicted to rise to 9,891 by 2020/21.

An extra 210 places are being added at Roade Primary from this September.

There are currently 7,870 secondary places and there are projected to be 8,500 needed by 2020/21. Some secondaries have no surplus capacity.

Plans include:

The amalgamation and relocation of Silverstone infants and junior schools to form a new 420-place primary (an increase of 210).

A new 420-place primary on the Radstone Fields development in Brackley to open in September 2017.

A new 420-place primary to cater for the Towcester Sustainable Urban Extension to open in September 2019 at the earliest.

The demand for primary places at Wootton Fields and Old Stratford / Deanshanger will be intensively monitored.

Section 106 developer contributions are being secured for expansion at Magdalen School, Brackley, Sponne School, Towcester, Campion School in Bugbrooke and Chenderit School in Middleton Cheney.