Pupil Capacity and Numbers at Sampford Peverell School

“In light of an actual application for outline planning permission  (17/01359/MOUT) to build 84 dwellings on land at Higher Town, Sampford Peverell.

On 4 October 2017, In response to the application named above, Alison Balsdon, submitted a response to MDDC on behalf of DCC Planning, Transportation and Environment. 

  • Paragraph 2 of that response, states that 84 family-type dwellings will generate an additional 21 primary pupils.
  • Paragraph 3 states that ‘there is currently capacity at the nearest primary for the number of pupils likely to be generated by the proposed development. My questions mainly relate to those two statements.

My questions are:-

1)    The response provided by DCC on 4 September 2017 to my earlier request for information said that “as of 15/06/17, there are 105 shown on roll” at Sampford Peverell Primary School. The official DfE school census that was taken on 18/5/2017 and is shown on the DCC web pages at https://www.devon.gov.uk/educationandfamilies/school-information/education-statistics/school-census-statistics .  This says that there were on that date (18/5/17) 103 full-time and 19 part-time pupils on roll and it then gives a total (curiously) of 123.

a)  What explains the difference between a total of 123 given in the DfE census for 18 May and the 105 DCC figure provided to me as the correct figure for 15 June?

The figure of 123 from the census is the total of both the Primary number on roll and the Nursery number on roll, whereas the figure of 105 from the response on 4th September is only the Primary number on roll.

The change from 103 (18/5/17) to 105 (15/06/17), from the DfE census data, may be explained by pupils joining the school within this time.


2)    The capacity of Sampford Peverell Primary School is 119 places. (This was confirmed to me in the DCC response that I received on 4 September 2017). DCC’s response re application 17/01359/MOUT states that “there is currently (sic) capacity at the nearest primary school for the number of pupils likely to be generated by the proposed development”.  In that same response DCC estimates that the proposed development would generate an additional 21 pupils. This all implies that the number of pupils on roll at Sampford Peverell Primary School at the time of that DCC response on 4 October was 119 minus 21 = 99 pupils (or fewer).  The latest DfE school census was planned to take place on 5 October 2017. This implies that the data from 18 May would still be the most up to date official and publicly available figures available when DCC reached its view on the implications of planning application 17/01359/MOUT.

a) Was it DCC’s understanding from the data available to it on 4 October that the number of pupils on roll at Sampford Peverell Primary School was 99 pupils or fewer?

In accordance with Devon County Council’s Education Infrastructure Plan, the number of spare places is based on the current forecast capacity at the school.  On the 4th October, the forecast primary number on roll for spring 2021 was 77.

b) What number of pupils was used by DCC as the basis for its statement that “there is currently capacity” at the school for up to 21 extra pupils?

As Sampford Peverell Primary School has capacity for 119 pupils, taking the forecast number on roll plus number of pupils expected from permitted development, would leave 39 spare places at the school.

119 (capacity) minus 80 (77 forecasted number on roll + 3 generated by other proposed development) = 39.  This results in enough spare capacity for the 21 primary school pupils expected to be generated by application 17/01359/MOUT.

c) Please provide me with copies of the document / statistics about the number of pupils at Sampford Peverell Primary School that were used as the basis for the DCC response to planning application 17/01359/MOUT sent out on 4 October.

Please see the forecasting table provided here.


3)    The total of 21 extra pupils put forward by DCC corresponds to that which is reached by applying the formula given in DCC’s document “Education Section 106 Infrastructure Approach” ie number of dwellings multiplied by 0.25. That formula, however, only applies to calculating pupils of primary school age. Sampford Peverell currently runs a nursery school (First Steps).  For children of ages 2-4, the DCC formula (dwellings X 0.11) would suggest that there would be about 9 pupils of that age also seeking places at the school site. I note that the DCC response to MDDC on 17/01359/MOUT seeks payment to ensure delivery of provision for Early Years pupils but I cannot see any acknowledgement that this is tied up with places and capacity at the Primary School.

a) How, if at all, were nursery/pre-school places on the school site considered by DCC in calculating whether there is sufficient capacity at Sampford Peverell Primary School for the development proposed in application 17/01359/MOUT?

Whether there is spare capacity is worked out separately for the primary school (Reception to Year 6) and nursery (2, 3 and 4 year olds) provision. The additional primary pupils generated by the proposed development would be considered within any spare capacity at Sampford Peverell Primary School.  The additional early years children generated by the development would be considered in the forecast spare capacity in the Nursery at the primary school alongside any other early years providers in the area.

b) Is my use of DCC formulae correct in calculating that an extra 9 pupil places in nursery provision may be needed on site at Sampford Peverell to accommodate extra demand likely to be created by the proposed development?

The need for nursery places is based on the number of children that would be expected to be generated by development applied to the likely future demand for places.  The future demand is informed by current demand.

The number of additional nursery school children that will be generated is calculated by:

Number of houses x percentage of children estimated to be in the age bracket in the area.  For 2 year olds, this is also applied to the percentage of children that are eligible for funded childcare in the area.

Therefore, 2 year olds eligible for funded childcare = 84 (number of houses) x 3.6% (percentage of children in age bracket) x 0% (population currently eligible for funded childcare) = 0 children

3 and 4 year olds = 84 x 7.2% (percentage of children in age bracket) = 7 children

Full Time Equivalent (FTE) places are then worked out to provide the sufficiency of capacity. In this instance:

7 (no) 3 and 4 year olds creates an additional 6.5 FTE

This totals a need for 6.5 FTE places from the proposed development.

Existing capacity at early years providers in the area is 20 FTE places and it is forecast that there will be a need for 18 places excluding the need arising from this development. Adding the expected need from this development, there is an estimated need for 24.5 FTE places which leads to a shortfall of 4.5 spaces.  The additional places would be required in the locality of the development, which may be at Sampford Peverell Primary School.

c) Should the total figure used to calculate impact on school capacity at Sampford Peverell Primary School therefore be 30 not 21?

As the primary and nursery are separated for purposes of calculating spare capacity, the figure used to calculate the impact on Sampford Peverell Primary School should be 21 and not 30.  An additional demand for 6.5 FTE early years places is expected to be generated by the development.


4)   In the light of the above, please explain fully and clearly how the statement that “there is currently capacity at the nearest primary” can be justified. I fear I may be missing an important dimension.

Devon County Council uses forecast data when calculating whether there is spare capacity at a school to accommodate the pupils expected to be generated by development. NHS data on pre-school children is used to inform forecasts for numbers on roll, which at Sampford Peverell in 2021 is 77. This is added to the impact of other proposed developments in the area, leading to an estimate of 80 pupils on roll in 2021. It is therefore stated that there will be enough space for the extra 21 primary students that will be generated from the 17/01359/MOUT development.  The capacity at the primary school is based on school age children and excludes the nursery provision at the school.  As identified above, nursery provision is considered separately.