Detailed planning by the council shows that 4 to 5 new forms of entry will be needed by September 2018, and a further 6 by September 2019.
The council is currently working with Eastwood, Shoeburyness and Belfairs academy schools to secure commitment for a council funded expansion programme to meet the September 2018 demand. It is recommended that demand for September 2019 is met through a combination of expansions and the building of a new free school, and the council is investigating the feasibility of this in partnership with existing and proven academy trusts.
Any new school would be centrally funded via a trust bid directly to the DfE, and there would be no cost to the council.
Cllr James Courtenay, Executive Councillor for Children and Learning, says: “The council recently completed a comprehensive primary school expansion programme, and we have been busily planning for the next phase which is naturally at our secondary schools.
“This report details how we can meet the need for September 2018 through expansion which is already budgeted for through our capital budget, but the only realistic option to meet need by September 2019 is to support an academy trust bid to build a new free school.
“The timings are challenging, and there is much work to be done, but we expect an application to be made to the DfE by the Summer with a view to opening a new free school in September 2019, which may need to be in temporary accommodation to start with due to the timescales involved. No sites have yet been identified, and this will all be part of any central application and bid made.”