An ambitious plan to create 12,000 new school places to alleviate intense pressure on schools has been unveiled by Northamptonshire County Council.
The document, part of the council’s Race to the Top strategy, includes details of six new secondary schools and 25 new primary schools which need to be ready to go before September 2020.
These new schools would provide about 10,000 new secondary places and 2,000 new primary places.
The report reveals the location of every planned new school in the county, as well as how many places our existing schools have to add to their intakes in order to ensure every child has a place over the next decade.
Education experts have used population growth data to estimate the number of places needed, although they admit their forecasts are likely to be conservative due to high levels of migration into the county.
Their estimates predict there would need to be two new, 420-place primary schools every three months in the county to keep pace with the increase in pupil numbers from migration alone.
The document states: “Of the 39 secondary schools in the county, 25 are full on offer day and the remaining places are available at only one or two schools in most areas.”
In Corby, all the secondary schools are predicted to be full by September next year.
The ambitious building programme will be funded by; central government; the sale of former county council land; individual school budgets; NCC loans or reserves; funds set up to help build academies, and by section 106 funding from developers who pay the local authority a sum to help provide infrastructure.
It is also expected that the authority will use commercial premises to help fill the gap.
The council is converting the former Post Office Sorting Office in Barrack Road, Northampton, the only project of its scale in the country, to provide a 2,200-place school for children aged four to 19.
Stirling House office block in Northampton is also being run as an annex to an existing primary school and youngsters in Corby have been going to school in a converted warehouse on the Earlstrees Industrial Estate while other accommodation is being built.
Special school numbers are rising at an even faster rate with pupil numbers increasing by 33 per cent for primary and 22 per cent for secondary since 2010.
Specific pressure on this provision has been identified at Friars School in Wellingborough, where it is planned to open an annex in Rushden to allow shorter journey times for people living there.
A pre-exclusion unit and exclusion facility for primary school pupils is also planned for Corby.
A county council spokesman said: “Northamptonshire is experiencing unprecedented growth in pupil numbers through a combination of the increasing birth rate, inward migration and housebuilding, yet we have risen to the challenge of providing more school places in our county over the past few years and will continue to do so.
“We know we will need 25 new primary schools and six secondary schools by 2020 and we are working closely with partners, including the Education Funding Agency, academy trusts, free school providers and borough and district councils to create the new school places where they are needed.
“Our School Organisation Plan looks at the future needs of Northamptonshire as a whole and is open for consultation until the end of this term. Applications for individual new schools will be subject to the usual planning process as they’re submitted and will also be open for public consultation.”
All borough and district council have been asked to respond to the consultation.
Members of Corby Council’s Local Plan Committee met last week to discuss the proposals. Committee member Cllr Mark Pengelly said: “The county council says that the primary allocation in Corby is sorted because of the James Ashworth Free School which we know is not now happening.
“What we see here is the county council completely out of step with what’s actually happening in our towns.
“There’s been no consultation with communities or local councillors about the sites proposed in the plan. How can they make a decision about a school with no consultation? It’s like throwing darts in a map.
“The report says that there is a secondary school going to be built at a site ‘south of Corby’ but we know there’s no obvious land there. When we pushed the officers it turned out this site was at the Stanion Plantation off Geddington Road.
“That’s fine if you have a 4x4 but we know that we need schools in our communities that children can walk to.”
There are 6,696 primary pupils in Corby and there are expected to be 7,275 by 2020 because of the number of new homes being built. The county council’s projections say that by September next year, all existing Corby secondary schools will be full and additional capacity will be needed.
There are 4,578 pupils from Years 7 to 14 in the current academic year, and there are predicted to be 5,580 secondary pupils by 2020/21.
Expansion of Corby Technical School from 75 to 100 pupils per year group from September 2017.
A new secondary school at Stanion Plantation off Geddington Road to open in September 2019.
The temporary expansion of Kingswood Academy to offer places to 16 more pupils for 2016/17 and 2017/18.
Other schools to form ‘bulge’ years to provide extra capacity in advance of the opening of the new secondary school.
Post-2021, a seventh secondary school will be built at the proposed West Corby development.
There are currently 7,121 primary school places in Wellingborough, forecast to rise to 7,192 by 2020. The two housing developments at Stanton Cross and Upper Redhill are likely to increase pressure. Secondary schools are likely to be full to capacity by 2020/21. Pupil numbers are presently at 4,586 and are likely to increase to 5,310 by 2020/21.
Expansion plans at Earls Barton infants and junior schools (currently on hold)
Wollaston Primary to increase from an intake of 45 to 60.
Temporary expansion of one of Wellingborough’s existing secondary schools until the opening of a 1,500-place secondary school at Stanton Cross after 2020.
Primary school numbers are at 8,879 in Kettering, but are likely to increase to 9,677 by 2020/21. Forecasts for secondary school places rise from 6,700 this year to 7,637 in 2020/21. The council says all places will be full by the 2017/18 academic year.
A new two-form entry primary school to cater for the expansion around West Hill and Gipsy Lane on the new West Hill development.
A new two-form entry primary linked to the Rothwell North housing development.
A new two-form entry primary on The Grange in Desborough.
Expansion at St Mary’s Primary in Kettering, to 45 places per year group.
A new 1,500-place secondary school on the Kettering East development and bulge year groups at existing schools ahead of this opening.
Increased capacity at The Latimer Arts College paid for by section 106 cash.
Expansion at Montsaye Academy, again from section 106 money.
EAST NORTHAMPTONSHIRE (Rural north area)
There is projected to be a decline in pupil numbers at primaries in Oundle and Thrapston from 1,672 places to 1,605 places so existing provision is deemed to be sufficient. Secondary places are also predicted to fall from 1,126 to 1,035 but the council will monitor the situation as there are plans for housing around the area.
EAST NORTHAMPTONSHIRE (Rushden area)
There are 5,136 primary places in and around Rushden, which will rise to 5,334 by 2020/21. Secondary school places are sufficient until 2019/20 when more capacity will be needed. There are currently 3,531 secondary places in the area, predicted to rise to 3,905 by 2020/21.
A new two-form entry primary in Irthlingborough to serve new housing. The council is also looking at other sites around Irthlingborough because capacity is expected to remain tight.
A new two-form entry primary in the first phase of the Rushden East Sustainable Urban Expansion (not expected to open before September 2020)
The council will talk to existing secondary schools about expanding. It is expected Manor School in Raunds will be extended using section 106 contributions.