The report provides an update on the council’s ongoing secondary school expansion plans and shows the preferred site of the new free school is land adjacent to St Laurence Park.
Cllr James Courtenay, Executive Councillor for Children and Learning, says: “Whilst we are working hard to meet expansion requirements for September 2018 through our ongoing work with current schools, as already stated we need to open a new free school in the Borough by September 2019 to provide enough secondary school places for local children and meet our statutory obligations. This will be funded through a bid by a proven academy trust to the Department for Education, with the council’s support.
“I am excited to say that the academy trust envisages this being a Science, Technology, Engineering and Manufacturing (STEM) school, which will enhance what we can currently offer in the Borough, expand parental choice and open up innovative and important links with the nearby airport, and Airport Business Park Southend which is under construction.
“Officers have investigated a number of possible council and privately owned sites across the Borough to make this happen. In a densely populated urban environment such as Southend-on-Sea, there is not one site that meets all of our requirements exactly, but we believe this is the best and most realistic site to achieve what we need to. Local residents will be consulted, and any plans will go through the necessary statutory processes.
“Whilst the timeframes are challenging and we are reliant on Government funding being forthcoming, we are confident that all parties can make this happen for the good of our borough.”
School expansion updates
- Shoeburyness High School has agreed to expand permanently by one form of entry from September 2018, as well as taking a ‘bulge year’ from September 2018. Planning permission has been granted for work that will start shortly;
- St Thomas More has agreed to expand permanently by one form of entry from September 2018, with a planning application recently submitted;
- The Eastwood Academy has consulted on expansion, and a capital project is currently being costed for internal refurbishments. The council is awaiting confirmation of these plans;
- Belfairs Academy is undertaking a feasibility study for potential expansion of up to two forms of entry. The council is awaiting confirmation of these plans.