Plans unveiled by the county council aim to provide extra places at two Pendle high schools.
The proposals for Colne Primet Academy and SS John Fisher and Thomas More Roman Catholic High School will ensure schools in the area have the capacity to meet increased demand for mainstream and special educational needs (SEN) places.
The expansion plans for both schools will be discussed at a meeting of the county council’s Cabinet on Thursday 2 September.
The recommendations that Cabinet will be asked to approve for Colne Primet Academy are:
• Approve a temporary increase, for one year only, to the admission number of Colne Primet Academy from 165 to 210 places for 2022
• Approve a permanent increase in the admission number of Colne Primet Academy from 165 to 210 places from 2023 (subject to academy consultation and Regional Schools Commissioner approval)
• Approve the capital expenditure required to provide the additional accommodation at the academy
• Approve the provision of an Inclusion Unit to provide an extra 16 special educational needs places at the academy for pupils with education, health and care plans
• Approve the capital expenditure that will be required to provide the new unit at the academy
The Pendle Education Trust would take forward a consultation regarding these proposals, if they are agreed.
County Councillor Jayne Rear, cabinet member for education and skills, said: “We are constantly reviewing changing demographic factors to make sure that we have the right number of school places throughout the county. As a result of an increased demand for places in Pendle, we are considering providing some of the additional places that are needed by expanding two existing schools, in line with the council’s policy.
“Cabinet has also previously agreed to increase the provision for pupils with special education needs and disabilities in Lancashire, and make sure that there are enough school places to meet the demand. Ensuring that as many children as possible are educated in mainstream schools that are suitable to fit their needs is a paramount commitment of the county council, as well as ensuring that appropriate sufficient specialist provision is available.
“It is important that children with special educational needs and disabilities are able to have the most appropriate school place, and we are fully committed to achieving this.
“The reality is that we are facing an increasing demand for special school places in certain parts of the county, including in Pendle. Because of this, we will also consider the provision of an Inclusion Unit at Colne Primet Academy, and approval of the capital expenditure that will be required for this. The provision of this unit will provide an extra 16 special educational needs places at the academy.
“Our commitment to providing the best possible educational experience to all of our young people will always underpin the decisions that are taken.”
Anita Ghidotti, chief executive of the Pendle Education Trust, said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with Lancashire County Council to ensure that local children have the high-quality education, support and resources they need in our community. Primet has a longstanding tradition of working at the heart of this community and we very much welcome the possibility of the opportunity to grow in a planned and sustained manner.”
The main recommendations to be considered at the Cabinet meeting for SS John Fisher and Thomas More Roman Catholic High School are to:
• Approve a temporary increase, for one year only, to the admission number of SS John Fisher and Thomas More Roman Catholic High School from 160 to 180 places for 2022
• Approve a permanent increase in the admission number of SS John Fisher and Thomas More Roman Catholic High School from 160 to 180 places from 2023
• Approve the capital expenditure required to provide the additional accommodation at the school
The proposal for SS John Fisher and Thomas More RC High School does not meet the Department for Education guidelines of a statutory expansion and therefore no consultation would be required.
Simon Smith, director of education for the Diocese of Salford, said: “We are forecasting increased demand for school places in Pendle, and we are considering providing some of the additional places that are needed by expanding SS John Fisher and Thomas More Roman Catholic High School, in Colne.
“If this proposal goes ahead, it would permanently increase the admission at the school from 160 to 180 from September 2022, adding 100 additional places over the next few years.
“The county council, the Diocese of Salford and the school governors will work together to deliver the required additional places.”
The proposals for both schools will mean that an additional 65 places will be available per year. This ensures that sufficient places are available for future year groups through to 2028, allowing for the increased demand to be met.