Hampshire County Council’s biggest programme of school expansion in more than 30 years is set to continue, creating a total of 17,720 new school places by September 2021.
Since 2013, the County Council has been pursuing an ambitious programme of building new schools, and expanding existing schools. At his decision day today (15 January), Executive Lead Member for Children’s Services, Councillor Keith Mans, approved the Children’s Services Capital Programme 2018/19 to 2020/21, which will continue this work – including building a further six new schools across Hampshire.
Councillor Mans said: “This is one of the largest school building programmes in the UK. We are determined that families in Hampshire have access to a good local school that offers a rich and varied learning experience. We have always planned well ahead to make sure this is possible.
“As our population grows, and public funds face increasing pressure, we proactively negotiate with a wide variety of funding sources for this essential work. Developers’ contributions are an important part of the resources for school building; schools are an essential element in the infrastructure for the communities that housing developers are creating, and it is vital that developers continue to make essential financial provision for this infrastructure.
“We have been experiencing pressure on primary school places for some time now, and I’m pleased to say we’re still ahead of the game – meeting the increasing demand through careful planning and budgeting. While delivering this next programme, we will be looking even further ahead, to the next five years. We will have a greater focus on secondary school places, as our burgeoning primary school population grows up and moves through the school years.”
In line with national trends, Hampshire has experienced a significant rise in births in recent years. This, together with housing development and people moving into the county from other areas, is increasing the pressure for additional school places.
During the period 2013 to 2017, the County Council delivered 8,088 new school places. Projects in the 2018/19 to 2020/21 programme are expected to add a further 9,632 places, giving a total of 17,720 new school places by September 2021.
As part of the programme, the County Council is working collaboratively with the Department for Education to build new free schools. The Government provides capital funding for new free schools, and the County Council acts as a local partner to identify and help to secure a suitable sponsor, design each new free school and ensure that investment is matched to need.
The County Council’s Executive Member for Education, Councillor Peter Edgar, added, “Collaborative work with the Department for Education and the Education and Skills Funding Agency is proving very positive for all concerned. With our local knowledge and specialist school building expertise, we are in a unique position to balance the complex combination of Government grants, developers’ contributions and locally resourced capital funding, and ensure that school places are provided in a cost-effective way, delivered on time and on budget, and continue to form part of our cohesive family of schools, countywide.”
Six new mainstream schools are planned; primary schools in Botley, Eastleigh, Horndean, and Fareham, and a secondary school in Hedge End. These schools will all be partly funded by developers’ contributions, which means that the timescale for building each school will depend on the timing of the housing developments being built in the area.
The County Council has also been successful in securing funding for a free special school for ages 4 to 16, located in Chineham, Basingstoke. More places for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) are also being planned as part of a countywide strategy that will see many existing SEND facilities expanded or improved.
The approval of the Capital Programme will be reported to Hampshire County Council’s Cabinet on 5 February 2018, who will make final recommendations to the County Council on 22 February 2018. Lists of school improvement projects, new builds and other Children’s Services capital projects, for the next three years, are in Appendix 1 of the Capital Programme Report.