The council’s cabinet (Tuesday 20th June) will be asked to agree that expansion plans for Shoeburyness and St Thomas More High Schools are progressed to the procurement stage and that discussions continue with Belfairs Academy, Eastwood Academy and St Bernard’s High School to provide a total of 150 new places by September 2018.
An update on plans to support a bid to build a new free school providing an additional 180 year 7 places by September 2019 will also be given. The expansion is required due to increased recent birth levels and information from Essex County Council suggesting that, due to their own pressures, they will be unable to accept Southend resident pupils from September 2019 onwards.
Cllr James Courtenay, Executive Councillor for Children and Learning, said: “We have a statutory duty to ensure that there are sufficient primary and secondary places available in the borough and these plans follow quickly on from our recently completed £25m primary school expansion programme.
“This report details how we can meet the need for September 2018 through expansion. But to meet the need by September 2019, we must support an academy trust bid to build a new free school in the Borough. We will do this by supporting the bid and identifying a council-owned site for the school to be built on, which will strengthen the bid. Not doing this would potentially delay the programme and hamper our ability to provide enough secondary spaces by September 2019.
“We have identified a number of possible council-owned sites, but a decision is yet to be made on the preferred site, as it would be subject to legal permissions, proper consultation with relevant stakeholders and gaining successful planning consent. As soon as we are clearer on our preferred option, we will be able to announce our intentions further and carry out the relevant consultations.”