Report of the Director of Community and Children's Services.
Members received a report of the Director of Community and Children’s Services relative to the Academies Development Programme update.
The following points were noted:
· Since 2013 the City had increased the number of academies it sponsored from three disparate academies to ten with the City of London Academies Trust (CoLAT) being established in 2016. Together they had a total capital investment in excess of £96 million and, when operating at full capacity, enabled over 9,000 students to be educated by the City.
· The support of the Chief Executives and chief officers of the four local authorities in which these academies were located had been essential, and well received, in making the decisions required to reach this point.
· On a recent tour of the City of London Primary Academy Islington site with the Chair of Policy and Resources they had reflected on the decision to take on a poorly performing school in our neighbouring borough, and the decision to close a Catholic girls’ school to open a non-denomination co-ed academy on the same site. Both had raised concerns politically and organisationally at the time but had resulted in success.
· In terms of challenges going forward, the report provided details of the two remaining capital builds that remained in progress, detailing risks on delays for completion, budget to match costs of design, and therefore potential for compromises in the completed capital builds should value engineering need to be undertaken to bring builds within budget, and the board will wish to consider how progress on these remaining capital builds are regularly monitored and reported on to this board. It was recognised that there were difficulties here due to the Department for Education leading the build and the need to balance remaining in budget and achieving outstanding educational facilities.
· And finally, there remained a broader issue of reducing demand for school places in future years, as reported on 1 July 2021. Appendix 1 displayed the present occupancy of the City Academies. Some of these numbers showed impressive change, such as the City of London Academy Highgate Hill application numbers previously being around 50 but now improved to having more applications than places, whereas some Academies were still struggling to fill places.
The Chair took the opportunity to highlight that this would be the Academy Development Director’s last Education Board meeting before leaving the Corporation and expressed the Board’s thanks for his support to the Board and the academies over the previous years.
The Chief Executive of CoLAT affirmed that these decisions had proven challenging over the years but that the Director’s support in achieving this had been invaluable. Future challenges would continue to be tackled by the CoLAT team including discussions currently taking place surrounding the issue of pupil places and occupancy.
RESOLVED, that the report be noted.