Ensuring Safe and Healthy Communities

CS25: Children, Young People and Higher Education

CS25: Children, Young People and Higher Education

Where local provision for children and young people will be inadequate to meet the needs of new residential developments, improved facilities/services or new learning facilities (i.e. schools, pre-schools, children's centres, childminding provision, youth provisions etc) will be sought to meet any identified shortfall.

These learning facilities will be provided in tandem with population growth. Where appropriate, new schools will become focal points for communities and act as a venue for a wide range of community activities.

New schools/children and young people facilities will be sited in a location that would facilitate safe routes to the venue and be directly accessible to a pedestrian and cycleway network.

The provision of further and higher education and training initiatives and facilities, particularly with regards to the role and expansion of Weston College as a focus for higher education within the district, will be supported.

This policy contributes towards achieving Priority Objective 8.

Background

With a large amount of development planned up to 2026 there is going to be increasing pressure on the children services system to meet the needs of residents. New housing developments can increase the number of children in an area and place greater demand for pupil places in local schools and other children focused services.

This is particularly true in the case of the expansion of Weston. Here six new primary schools (with possible co-located community facilities such as children's centres, pre-schools etc), up to two new secondary schools, and the probable relocation and expansion of other existing schools will be required to serve the new developments.

For smaller developments any deficiencies can be more problematic to solve as needs are often greater than the provision of just a classroom(s) and associated servicing and supporting facilities such as toilets, play space etc. Class organisational structures may necessitate the need for a range of additional facilities to support the council's policy of working towards having single aged teaching bases and the legal requirement for infant-aged pupils to be taught within teacher pupil ratios of 1:30. In addition, any supporting accommodation such as the hall, play areas, green fields and other teaching rooms also need to adequately cater for the rising school population. These education facilities will need to be provided in tandem with population growth to ensure that all children have safe and convenient access to school facilities that meet their needs.

Weston College also plays an important role in Weston-super-Mare in terms of provision of higher education. Weston College now offers degree courses and has many sites across the town including its new University Campus which opened in 2007 and is leading in a range of new initiatives including work based learning and higher education.

A successful Weston College can provide the workforce with skills to support local businesses and its continued success is critical to the future of the town. The town centre with its good public transport links is ideally located to support the future expansion of the college including facilities such as students' halls of residence.

The Core Strategy approach

Developer contributions will be sought to meet the children and young people's educational and play needs of new developments. Depending on the extent of the shortfall and the scale of development proposed contributions could be required for secondary, primary and special schools as well as pre-schools, youth centres, play needs and children's centres. As well as built accommodation, contributions towards improving safe routes to school or home to school transport may be required.

Any contributions will be influenced by the North Somerset School Organisational Plan (2007-2012). This strategic document includes an assessment of future demand for school places and how these may be accommodated. The main conclusions arising from the document which are relevant to the Core Strategy are:

  • To ensure that there is a surplus of around 5 - 7% of places in all schools to enable parental preferences to be realised as much as possible;
  • To enable the council to support school organisational structures that enable approved curriculum planning structures to be put in place by all schools;
  • To progress amalgamations and federations where they contribute to academic achievement, improve standards and give greater financial sustainability;
  • To progress Building Schools for the Future (BSF) and the Primary Capital Programme (PCP) where funding permits;
  • To expand primary and secondary school place provision in Portishead and Weston-super-Mare to meet residential needs;
  • To promote extended services and children's centre provision across the district to match Government requirements;
  • To review school place provision across all clusters and make changes as necessary.

Schools are often focal points for communities and can provide a valuable community resource outside of school. They can act as a venue for clubs, societies and community groups as well as more active recreation and sport. The design and layout of new education facilities should therefore include features aimed at facilitating community use.

How and where the policy will be delivered

Most of the new schools in the district will be associated with the expansion of Weston-super-Mare although the policy will apply to any development that requires the expansion of facilities for children and young people.

The strategy will be developed through the implementation of the North Somerset School Organisational Plan (2007-2012) which will be funded mainly by a combination of developer contributions and also, where available, through public sector finance. Developer's contributions will be set out in a forthcoming Supplementary Planning Document.

There will be effective co-ordination with the council's children and young people directorate and local community groups to ensure that local needs are clearly identified and implemented.

Alternative options and contingency planning

One of the aims of the Sustainable Community Strategy is to "meet the learning, social and cultural needs of North Somerset communities" and there are no alternative approaches that would meet this aim. It would be unrealistic to expect these facilities to be totally funded and provided from the public purse.

Monitoring and review

Monitoring will assess the provision of facilities.

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