£4.5m Taken From Send Funding For Mainstream School Place Crisis

A year 7 school place crisis in the Central East area of Bristol, has seen funding moved from a special school places project to fund a new sixth form.

A proposal approved by Cabinet this month, saw £4.5m allocated to the development of a permanent 6th form for Cabot Learning Federation (CLF). This funding will allow the academy to open a new post-16 college which will meet demand for a growing population of young people moving into further education. In turn, this will free up existing buildings in CLF academy schools for year 7 pupils needing places.

The funding will come from a Cabinet approved basic need grant to address a shortfall of special school places and ‘poor quality buildings’ agreed in September 2020.

The projects that the money will be taken from will be: £2,258,119 for Claremont school to have temporary accommodation, £795,767 from the Claremont redevelopment and £1,446,114 from the fund for Hawking House.

The aim is for these capital budgets to be ‘backfilled’ when new basic need capital funding is announced by the Department for Education – which is expected in March 2021.

But papers to Cabinet warn that the ‘impact’ of ring fencing the £4.5m for mainstream capacity and the post-16 build is that there is a ‘potential delay’ in delivering these Send projects.

Bristol City Council’s Equality Impact Assessment states that as long as the council received a new basic need in line with that received for 2021/22, then there will be ‘minimal impact’ on the delivery of the SEND Capital Proposals approved in September.

But the assessment also states that if the announcement is delayed or less grant is awarded, then ‘individual projects can be paused while the additional funding is secured.’

Cabinet Member with responsibility for Education and Skills, Councillor Anna Keen addressed the meeting saying: “We are so pleased that this paper is able to provide such as positive outcome for the pupils in East Bristol and we’re really delighted that the post-16 offer in the area can be expanded which is a much-needed improvement having been consulted on with all parties including pupils in the area.”

Keem did not mention the Send related issues and neither did Cabinet members comment.