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Queensferry Campus Project – Pause and Review

Published: 16/02/2015

An update on the Queensferry Campus Project will be discussed at Cabinet on Tuesday (17 February). In October 2014, the Council announced it was to pause and review progress on the Queensferry Campus Project, a new school building which was to replace John Summers High School and refurbish the adjoining Queensferry Primary School. The Council had made a policy commitment to develop a business case for a 3 to 16 school and replacement campus for John Summers High School. The pause and review was held following concern about the resilience of the data needed to support that business case to the Welsh Government for funding under its 21st Century Schools Programme. The review was undertaken as a result of updated information and a drop in actual and projected pupils numbers in the area. Now that the review has been completed, the recommendation to Cabinet is to not proceed with a new school to replace John Summers High School, and to open a period of formal consultation on how best to secure resilient, sustainable, high quality education in the area. Ian Budd, Chief Officer for Education and Youth, said: “We do understand the level of disappointment within the community. However, we have a duty to ensure that public funding is used in the most efficient way possible to support learners. For a new school building programme to go ahead, and to secure capital funding, a business case has to meet a number of tests. We had to be confident that there will be sufficient pupil numbers for the immediate and future years of the school, and this was not found to be the case. ” Cllr Chris Bithell, Cabinet Member for Education, said: “The original plans were based on 600 secondary places, but there are insufficient current and projected future pupil numbers to support this. Whilst last week’s confirmation of the planned link road through the Northern Gateway development site is very welcome, it doesnt change the level of housing development capable of being made there or the assessed need for local school places - and the completion of the development is some years away. This is further compounded by a predicted drop in birth rates. “The governing body has expressed a view that they wished to avoid a prolonged period of uncertainty for the school and local community. The next stage, subject to Cabinet approval on Tuesday, will be to open a formal consultation to look at the existing schools future viability. Any proposed changes would be subject to full statutory consultation procedures. This decision also means that the earlier decision to incorporate Nursery Class provision within Queensferry Primary School as a 3 to 11 school would remain in place.”