Members to discuss options for secondary school pupil place planning

Barnsley Cabinet members will receive a report which sets out options to meet the demand for additional secondary school places in the central area of the borough at their next meeting on Wednesday, 12 December.

They will hear that there is a projected shortage of places in this part of Barnsley.

There are three schools that serve this area, providing 4,100 secondary school places; Horizon Community College (2,000 pupils), Barnsley Academy (900 pupils) and Darton College (1,200 pupils).

It is estimated that there will be a rising demand for school places in this part of the borough.

From September 2020 to September 2027 forecasts suggest that there will be a requirement for an additional 657 places. There will be a demand for an additional 87 places in September 2020.

The options are:

  • New Free School built and run by a Multi- Academy Trust (MAT). Academies can apply to the recently launched Free School Programme by the Department for Education (DfE). The council has received two applications so far, and if successful this would largely be funded by the DfE.
  • New Free School funded by the Presumption route, and run by a Multi-Academy Trust. The council has the opportunity to apply for a grant (Presumption Grant) where it runs a competitive process (rather than the DfE) for an Academy to run the school Under the presumption route the council is responsible for providing the site for the new school and meeting the associated capital and any opening costs.
  • Create spaces within current schools with full costs met by Barnsley Council.

The report notes that the council will not be able to measure the financial cost of providing for school places until a formal decision is made on whether either of the Free School Applications submitted have been approved by the DfE. A further report will be presented to Cabinet when the DfE has made this decision in spring 2019.

The report recommends that the council continues to engage with, and support, Multi Academy Trusts that express an interest in opening a Free School in Barnsley, and that as a nominated eligible local authority, it applies to receive the new  Presumption Free School Grant. 

Further recommendations suggest that the council supports the provision of temporary accommodation for the September 2020 academic year, which may be run by a Free School in the event of a Multi Academy Trust application being successful.  A new Free School would not be built by this date.

In the event of a Free School application being unsuccessful, that the council would

accommodate the demand for pupils in 2020 within its existing schools. 

The report can be read in full here

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