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School place planning

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Dudley Council bosses will be looking at how the authority plans for current and future school places provision at a meeting of next week’s cabinet.

While the local authority acts as a commissioner rather than provider of school places, the council’s emphasis is on promoting high education standards, ensuring fair access and equal opportunity and promoting the fulfilment of every child’s educational potential.

The council’s education team works closely with the planning department to ensure that any major planning developments which are likely to see an increase in demand for school places are anticipated and provided for. Currently the model achieves a 99.8% accuracy across primary and secondary provision.

Additionally, with the ongoing conversion of many school to academy status, who can agree their own admissions numbers with the secretary of state for education, the council is continuing to work with academy trusts to ensure that these numbers are factored into planning and any hotspots or bulges addressed.

The borough saw a surge in the birth rate in the past decade, primarily impacting on primary numbers, which saw a primary increase plan implemented. The peak of this bulge was felt on the 2016/17 admissions, with a decline in primary numbers now expected.

This bulge is now expected to move up to secondary level, initially in the Brierley Hill area. Plans to increase 600 places in this area across The Wordsley School and the Crestwood School are currently going out to consultation while a phased increase in provision is introduced as needed across the rest of the borough. This approach includes exploring the option of a secondary free school on the former Coseley site to accompany the proposed primary free school and adjusting published admissions numbers (PAN) where there is a need.

Councillor Sue Ridney, cabinet member for children and young people, said:

It’s really important that we provide access to quality education to all our children and young people, wherever they live in the borough.
By working closely with our planning team and academies we can accurately predict when and where provision is needed and put measures in place accordingly; reducing numbers where there’s no longer a need and increasing places where there is demand, either on a temporary basis or investing for long term growth.”

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