Six Northampton schools to add extra places so council can meet statutory duties

The has had to negotiate with the academy trusts in order for them to agree to take on the additional pupils.
The has had to negotiate with the academy trusts in order for them to agree to take on the additional pupils.

Six of Northampton’s secondary schools will take in extra pupils to ensure Northamptonshire County Council is able to meet its statutory requirement  to provide places

Bulge classes will be added at Northampton International Academy, Abbeyfield School, Northampton School for Girls, Thomas Becket Catholic School , Northampton Academy and The Duston School this September.

The council is creating 200 temporary Year 7 places and has had to negotiate with the academy trusts running the schools in order for them to agree to take on the additional pupils.

Northampton International Academy will take on the most, adding in 60 Year 7 places, with Northampton School for Girls taking on 20 pupils. The other four schools will have an extra 30 Year 7 pupils each.

The authority will spend £2.3m from its 2018/19 budget to pay for the places which include spending £400,000 on improvements at both Abbeyfield School and the same sum at The Duston School. A sum of £1.5m will also be spent at Northampton International Academy to turn a former commercial space into classrooms and also to make a temporary on-site alternative provision permanent.

The £2.3m is coming from a combination of government cash for school places and section 106 contributions from developers.

A report which will go before the council’s cabinet next Tuesday (April 9) has laid out the severity of the situation.

It says: “The deficit of Year 7 places detailed above represents a clear and immediate risk to NCC fulfilling its statutory obligation of providing a sufficiency of Year 7 places in Northampton from September 2019 and immediate action is required.”

A total of 171 places are needed for this September. The council as the local education authority has responsibility for standards and places. As they are part of academy trusts the schools do not need to carry out consultation before they increase pupil numbers.

Councillor Dennis Meredith (Lib Dem, Talavera) said: “These issues have been known by the council for a long time as the scrutiny committee warned the council it was going to happen.

“It comes down to bad planning and is another failure of this administration as far as I am concerned.”

Each of the six schools that have agreed to take on the extra pupils will receive an additional £72,000 for the five years this Year 7 cohort will go through the school.

The report says it will be difficult to prove that value for money considerations have been achieved but it is the only way the council can provide the places.

The extra places are a temporary two-year measure. The council is also working with other partners in a free school bid for the town.

It should be known in the coming weeks whether the Government will approve the bid.