Agenda item

School Capital Programme 2023-2024


The Assistant Director of Education introduced the report of the Director of Regeneration and Place. The report noted that the Department for Education allocated grant funding each year to help maintain and improve the condition of school buildings and grounds. All local authorities must ensure that they have a sound Capital strategy for education services, ensuring that facilities are sufficient, safe and offer the best teaching environment for pupils of all abilities.


The report gave details of the planned Capital work for Maintained Schools over the following 12 months and gave details of proposed spend of two capital grants: (i) School Condition Allocation and (ii) High Needs Provision Capital Allocation.


Members asked for information on the boiler replacements in schools and how environmentally clean the replacements were likely to be. The Assistant Director of Education noted that where possible the most carbon neutral options were being chosen and that he would arrange for further information to be provided to Members in writing from the Assets Team.


In response to a query on the Higher Needs Provision The Assistant Director of Education explained that the Council received its’ allocation directly from Department for Education (DfE). He noted that officers have been in contact with the DfE to ask about the availability of further funding.


Members queried whether schools with a budget surplus could divert that surplus towards school improvements. The Assistant Director of Education noted that there was a distinction between Revenue and Capital budgets and that for the schools that Wirral Borough Council was directly responsible for, there was a rigorous process to where Capital allocations are made to ensure needs are met. However, where schools wish to make their own budget decisions, there would be the option to discuss this with them and to potentially make a Revenue to Capital transfer. He noted that ultimately the Capital funding should fulfil Wirral’s school needs as per the guidance from the DfE.


Members asked about the process for school repairs were an academy school to be given back to the Council. The Assistant Director of Education noted that there is no option for an academy school to be returned to a Local Authority. The Director of Children, Young People and Education noted that if an academy ceased to trade, the building would fall back to the Local Authority and at that point a decision would need to be made on the building and its use.


Members asked for a breakdown of the Basic Need allocation of £381,049 pounds, and queried why there was no allocation for 2021-22 or 2022-23. The Assistant Director of Education noted that Basic Need was linked to rising pupil numbers, for example if there is a population increase in a particular area. Wirral had not had an allocation for the past 2 years as there had been a decline in pupil numbers over that period. The Assistant Director of Education offered to provide further details on Basic Need in writing to Members.


Resolved – That:


1.  The Identified projects be included in the Schools Capital Programme funded by the Department for Educations.


2.  Asset Management be requested to progress all project designs, tender documentation, and initiate project implementation. Noting that all projects over £100,000 will be required to present tender details and prices via Officer Decision Notices.


Supporting documents: