Pupil Place Planning Phase 2
Decision Maker: Children, Young People & Education Committee
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: Yes
Is subject to call in?: Yes
The purpose of the report is to outline the recommendations arising out of phase 2 of the pupil place planning review.
In March 2021, this Committee endorsed the Pupil Place Planning Strategy 2021 -2026. This Strategy set out a planned framework for the review of school places in both primary and secondary mainstream schools over the next 5 years.
Phase 2 of the primary phase of the review commenced in October 2022 looking at small planning areas in and around South Wirral, specifically: Bebington, Bromborough, Eastham, Spital and Thornton Hough. A detailed review framework and process has been undertaken and has included information gathering, stakeholder discussion. This has culminated in the recommendations presented within the report.
Recommendations relating to schools controlled under the auspices of both the Diocese of Chester – Church of England, and the Diocese of Shrewsbury – Roman Catholic, have been presented, discussed, and approved as well as proposals relating to Academy Trusts. This has demonstrated the strength in partnership working and collaboration across the education sector which will be harnessed as the parties progress as a local education partnership.
Fundamental to the work has been adherence to the principles outlined. These are the drivers for change and are intrinsically aligned to the ‘Brighter Futures’ priority in the Wirral Plan 2026. The work has already been captured as a strategic driver within the Plan and this report and recommendations form part of its delivery.
Resolved – That the Committee noted and supported the recommendations made regarding the proposals for each small planning areas of Spital, Thornton Hough, Bebington and Bromborough & Eastham.
Reasons for the decision:
It is important that the Council demonstrates its support for the work and proposals considered and agreed by the Diocese of Chester and the Diocese of Shrewsbury which are important partners in supporting education outcomes for Wirral children.
As the responsible authority for maintained schools, it is important that the Council is managing both surplus and demand for pupil places in line with its statutory responsibilities. It is also important that it ensures that schools can provide high quality education, are efficiency and viable and provide the best possible education support to meet children and young people’s needs.
The recommendations outlined have been identified following a rigorous, transparent, and equitable review programme which has sought to engage
stakeholders throughout. Schools have had opportunity to consider and comment on the information gathered and to have influence/views on the proposals. The principles have been adhered to and remain fundamental to guiding the development of the proposals.
Alternative options considered:
Do nothing: There is a strong case for change. Population changes and local projections are evidencing that surplus is growing in schools. This can have a detrimental impact on school viability as well as how pupils are supported in their education. Failure to understand the implications of this and set out a planned and managed programme of change may result in more significant, unanticipated financial and reputational consequences for Wirral.
In relation to the specific proposals: Bromborough and Eastham: Several schools within the small planning area do currently have capacity within their school, one school currently operates with a temporary, Published Admission Number, PAN, of 30 instead of 45. An option could have been to review the number of schools within the local area, this was discounted due to no one school having significant capacity to absorb the pupils of another school. In addition, and more importantly, extensive house building is expected to take place over the next 10 years alongside the Mersey Bank in Bromborough
indicating additional school places will be required. It would be feasible that a school could be closed but then within a very short time frame an additional school would be required to meet the needs of the house building within the local area.
Given this context, schools that would have a smaller pupil cohort in the medium term will be supported with appropriate financial forecasting and management until housing developments come to fruition.
Report author: James Backhouse
Publication date: 25/09/2023
Date of decision: 25/09/2023
Decided at meeting: 25/09/2023 - Children, Young People & Education Committee
Effective from: 30/09/2023