The report was introduced by the Director of Education and Learning, Cathy Twist who advised that:
· There was significant population change in London and Lambeth and that would have impact on pupil place planning.
· An oversupply of places at a school can lead to financial and organisational inefficiency and can be challenging for individual schools to manage.
· The number of vacancies in schools varies across the borough. The highest number were in the schools in wards in the centre of the borough.
· Normally alongside this report, approval was usually sought for capital approval for new schools or to increase school places but not needed at this time.
Councillor Nicole Griffiths thanked officers on their work and highlighted that the report was clear, concise and provided detailed information, she went on to make the following comments and observations:
· There were concerns on the drop in population of families within the north of the borough which only has two or three schools and was concerned that if these schools were to close or reduce in capacity then there would be less places in the north of the borough.
· She acknowledged that 30 years ago school sites were sold and redeveloped and suggested a policy should be in place to allow school sites to be safe and reused for educational purposes.
· She was keen to explore reduction in class sizes to the 20 to 30 pupils as felt this would improve the quality of education for pupils.
In response to questions from Cabinet and other Councillors, officers advised that:
· Good schools were needed in all areas of the borough and that was always the aspiration of Lambeth.
· Equalities Impact Assessment was completed and attached to the report.
· Secondary schools were finding that the anticipated bulge in numbers had already passed and applications were now falling. As smaller groups come through from primary, this would continue.
· Need to manage pupil place planning incrementally so we could maintain service levels in all schools. There had been huge investment in Lambeth schools estates and needed to look how we can use differently.
· It was not feasible to reduce class sizes to 20, it had been considered in the past but was not workable as funding was per pupil and reducing class sizes the system would not be able to be financially viable.
· It was difficult to determine the rate of people moving out of borough – but it was possible to track the net rate of those who were taking up new places.
1) To note changes to the resident population of Lambeth and London.
2) To note the impact of the population changes on the school population of Lambeth.
3) To note the amendments proposed to reduce surplus places at Lambeth primary schools.
The Chair and rest of Cabinet thanked Cathy Twist for her contribution to Lambeth and its residents, as this was her last meeting of Cabinet before she retired.