Agenda item

School Places


The Director of Education and Skills introduced the reports; the first was about mainstream provision, and the supplementary report focused on the specialist provision.


·     The Chair asked why numbers related to secondary school places had not included the development of the new school in Knowle planned for 2023. The Commission was advised that as the Department of Education had not confirmed an opening date of the Free school, this was not reflected in Bristol’s figures.


·     The Chair welcomed the supplementary report on specialist places, and asked what the financial commitment behind the 450 places detailed in the report was.  Members were advised that the full cost of those additional places were at this stage unknown, that it would be dependent on understanding need, which would inform the paper scheduled to go to Cabinet in October.


·     It was confirmed that the Phase 1 funding had a shortfall linked to the Claremont School project; that £3.42M was secured for specialist provision projects for Phase 1; the funding for Phase 2 was yet to be confirmed; and expressions of interest from schools would be received from the autumn term.


·     Members welcomed available funding for local access to specialist provision, so children would no longer need to travel across the city.


·     There was a discussion about how specialist provision would be staffed, and members were advised that part of the response to the expression of interest would be about quality (which included the ability for schools to meet a diverse range of needs through the specialist provision) as well as available space and resource. There was also a focus on expertise that existed within the school, and what short-term development was required; and for some there would be recruitment of specialist teachers into schools.


·     There was a discussion about admissions policy and Members were told that there were statutory frameworks to work within, but each school had its own policy and some Bristol schools had offers to young people outside of Bristol.  Also, Bristol’s young people attended schools outside Bristol.


·     The Commission heard that 196 young people who lived outside Bristol were offered Bristol school places, and 372 of Bristol young people were offered places in other Authorities; and so Bristol was not in a deficit position regarding school places.


·     Members were advised that it was not known whether transport had been a consideration for applications; and that there had been fewer pupils who had applied for South Gloucestershire, the numbers that had gone to Bath & North East Somerset had not changed, and the numbers to North Somerset had increased.


·     Members heard that yearly increase of need had continued, and work to expand the existing provision in both primary and secondary had been undertaken; that there had been an excellent response form school leaders to try and create new places, often through small capital support in order to expand.


·     The Director of Education & Skills confirmed that the planned new provision of 254 in the next academic year would include the 139 children as of July 21 that had applied for but not received specialist placement; and that there was an increased number of EHCPs that would come through the system; approximately 40% of young people with EHCPs required specialist provision.


·     Members heard that all specialist provision was through expansion of the existing education estate and provision; and that this meant the long process related to Free Schools was not required. The Council aimed to expand existing estates.


·     The Chair welcomed the report and expressed optimism, especially about specialist places, but also noted that there was a dependence on funding, as not all of Phase 1 had been accounted for, and it was not known how much would be needed for Phase 2.


·     Members noted that there were continuing concerns and ongoing monitoring was important, and that the Commission should refer concerns and views about the topics at this meeting to Cabinet. 


·     The Cabinet Member for Families, Education and Women (Lead member for Children's Services) suggested that Commission could monitor progress against the Written Statement of Action, which was the wider work around SEND which would include areas there had not been time to discuss at the meeting.







·     The Commission note and welcome the report;

·     The Commission receive confirmation of how much of the £28M for Phase 1 had been secured to date;

·     The Commission receive further detail about the 69 places due to come on stream in September 2021, specifically whether the places would be separately allocated or would include a proportion of the 139 children as of July 21 that had applied for but not received specialist placements were part of this;

·     That the Written Statement of Action to be considered by the Commission when it sets the main work programme in September for the rest of the municipal year.

·     That the Commission submit a statement to Cabinet that addresses key issues and concerns raised at this meeting, and request it informs the Councils approach to the response to Sir Stephen Bubb’s recommendations, to the ALP review, and to school places.



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