Meeting documents

Tuesday, 25 November 2008


Return to Agenda








Report by Director for Children, Young People & Families




1.                  On the 16 October 2007, the Cabinet considered a report summarising the findings of a public consultation on the provision of additional Secondary School Places in Bicester. The Cabinet resolved to adopt Option C the proposed 14+ Learning Centre at Bicester as a preferred option.  Officers were charged with reporting back to Cabinet regarding the feasibility study, management, governance and pastoral care for the 14+ learning centre with time and cost implications.


2.                  The 14-19 learning centre was described as a new educational learning centre which would be purpose built to meet the demands of the future curriculum for learners from age 14.  It would accommodate pupils from Year 10 upwards who would be based at either of the existing schools and attend the new Learning Centre for part of the week.  A levels and other Post 16 courses would be taught at both schools and the new 14+ Learning Centre.


3.                  The Cabinet received a further update at its meeting on 24 June 2008 at which it was noted that officers would need to conduct further research to ensure that the new decision-making arrangements had firm foundations. The project was especially important in that too many pupils were either not entering Further Education in the area, or leaving Bicester unnecessarily.


4.                  Cabinet resolved to:


(a)               approve the continued strategic assessment and development of the strategic brief for the 14+ learning centre; and


(b)               instruct officers to do further work on the legal status of the         proposed new institution and the framework for governance and finances.


5.                  This work has begun and it is clear from legislation that the provision of new secondary school places can be undertaken in one of only two ways:


(i)                 by expanding one or both of the existing secondary schools


(ii)               by launching a competition for a new institution


6.                  In the case of option i) the school(s) to be expanded must fit the DCSF criteria “popular and successful”.  This phrase is not tightly defined and further work is needed to establish which school(s) would be eligible for expansion.


7.                  If option (ii) is pursued, the specification for a learning centre would be drawn up, based upon the work previously undertaken.  The specification would be consulted upon and finally agreed by Cabinet. Then a competition would be opened, inviting interested parties to submit proposals for providing the centre as defined in the specification.


8.                  The accommodation for additional school places for secondary education in Bicester will be located within the South West Bicester development.  The S.106 agreement for South West Bicester has now been signed and a contribution secured for the provision of secondary education against future housing to be developed in this area.  The timescales for this have been adversely affected by the slowdown in the economy and officers are still working with developers to establish a realistic timeline for the release of capital resources.   The earliest date by which the first payments are likely fall due for payment to the Authority is autumn 2012 although this is entirely dependent on economic factors affecting the rate at which new homes are built.   


Proposal by Governors of The Cooper School, Bicester to extend the Age Range from 11-16 years to 11-19 years


9.                  As part of the implementation of the 14-19 curriculum in Bicester, it is envisaged that the age range of The Cooper School will be extended to provide for the addition of a sixth form for 16-19 year olds. The Governors of The Cooper School carried out an informal consultation on the above proposal between 11 February and 31 March 2008.  A copy of the full consultation document is attached as Annex 1 (download as .pdf file)


10.             The proposal was widely publicised to parents and other parties as required under the terms of the Education and Inspections Act 2006 (EIA 2006).  A list of those formally consulted is included as part of the proposal document referred to above.  The proposal was also posted on the school website with details of how comments and responses could be sent to the governing body. 


11.             The school received 15 responses to its consultation, all of which were in favour of the proposal.  A summary of the responses and any particular comments are shown below. 



In favour of proposal (Yes or No)

Any comments

Chair of Governors, Southwold Primary School



Governor, Langford Village primary School


Reservation re year 7 pupils mixing directly with 17-18 year old students attached to the learning centre

Governor, Five Acres Primary School



Chair of Governors, Launton CE Primary School



Launton Parish Council



Middleton Stoney Parish council



Head teacher and Chair of Governors Bicester Community College


Looking forward to running a joint sixth form and encouraging more Bicester pupils to pursue sixth form studies. 

Head of Science, The Cooper school


Wishes to build on specialist status in science to provide science A levels and build on good relationships forged with Cooper pupils to the age of 16. 

Parents of pupils at feeder primary schools (4)


NB two respondents have replied as parents of pupils at The Cooper and a local primary school. 



Added incentive for local children to pursue post 16 study.  Reduce time and travel costs for sixth form study.  Smoother transition from GCSE to A level study. 

Parents of pupils at The Cooper School (3)

NB two respondents have replied as parents of pupils at The Cooper and a local primary school. 


As above. 

Admissions Manager, Buckinghamshire County Council


No effect on provision in Buckinghamshire.   


12.             Under the terms of the EIA  2006 if the outcomes of this informal consultation are to be used as the first step in the publication of a statutory notice to expand the age range of the school the Authority would normally have to make a decision on that basis by 31 March 2009.  This would require the publication of statutory notices by 9 January 2009 to allow the necessary formal public consultation period and a paper to be brought before the Cabinet on which they could base their decision.   Where proposals require capital resources for their implementation the funding for the proposals must be in place when the proposals are decided.  DCSF strongly recommended practice is to implement any statutory proposal within three years following a decision being taken by the Authority.   


13.             A desktop study has been commissioned by the Authority to identify, in consultation with the school, any building implications for the addition of a sixth form and any capital resources required. 




14.             The Cabinet is RECOMMENDED to:


(a)               instruct officers to carry out further work on the two options for providing additional secondary school places in Bicester and to bring this work back to Cabinet by November 2009, or sooner if housing development recommences and the provision of new places becomes more urgent; and


(b)              approve the publication, at the start of January 2009, of statutory notices to take forward the proposal to extend the age range at The Cooper School, Bicester from 11-16 to 11-19 PROVIDED the necessary capital resources have been identified as available for the delivery of the project by the planned date of publication.   




Director for Children, Young People & Families


Attachments:                          Informal consultation document published by Governors of The Cooper School


Background papers:             Consultation responses


Contact Officer:                     Allyson Milward, Principal Property & Assets Officer, Commissioning, Performance and Quality Assurance, Tel: 01865 816447

Roy Leach, Strategic Lead, School Organisation and

Planning, Tel: 01865  428117


November 2007


Return to TOP