No sites identified for three of the six new secondary schools needed in Northampton

Six new secondary schools are needed in Northampton alone by 2029
Six new secondary schools are needed in Northampton alone by 2029

Sites are still yet to be identified for three of the six extra secondary schools needed to cope with Northampton’s growing population, education experts have said.

Officers have briefed councillors on the gap that needs to be bridged in an appraisal of the projected rise in teenage pupils.

Although plans of varying stages are known for three secondary schools - the future 2,000-home Dallington Grange estate, Wootton Hall and the ex-Royal Mail site in Barrack Road - projections to 2029 would still leave the county with up to three secondary schools-worth of pupils with nowhere to be educated.

Ben Hunter, senior project manger at County Hall, told councillors at an education scrutiny meeting: “Looking at infrastructure requirements, I don’t think anything is more galvanising when it comes to securing funds from new developments than looking at what is required to accommodate growth.

“For example, the county council needs to deliver five to six secondary schools in the wider Northampton area between now and 2029.

“It means that we are going to need an additional three secondary schools where we don’t have sites.”

He added: “We’re also going to need a new secondary school in Corby, which requires a site.”

Mr Hunter said education managers were “very aware” of what is needed and are accordingly maximising the amount of funding asked for from house builders.

However, this is being made more difficult by new rules that stipulate each school can now only acquire financial contributions from a maximum of five housing projects, whereas previously there was no limit.

It means local authorities have to wait for larger estates to be approved in order to tap into the money for new schools and other services, rather than getting piecemeal funds from lots of smaller projects.

Councillor Danielle Stone (Lab, Abington and Phippsville) welcomed the report, but said the complexity of the new rules and the lack of allocated land for all the required schools was concerning.

She said: “I’m glad we have revised figures of need because what I’ve seen previously doesn’t tally with what I’ve know to be the case in Northampton.

“But the fact we need six secondary schools is very alarming because where are they going to go?”