Officer Decisions

Head of Education and Learning - Dawn Stabb

Summary of Matter or Issue Requiring Decision:

Providing a Local Authority recommendation to the Regional Schools Commissioner (South West) for a preferred sponsor for the new primary school to the east of Okehampton.

Decision Taken:

At a meeting on 18 October 2017 to review the assessment of bids undertaken by officers, the Head of Education and Learning in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Children, Schools and Skills made the decision not to recommend a preferred sponsor to the Regional Schools Commissioner for the new primary school in Okehampton. This was due to a lack of substantiated information as to whether the bidders had been approved by the Department of Education as a recognised sponsor (a compulsory element in the regulations for the Free School Presumption), combined with the diversity and wide variation in community view.

The Regional Schools Commissioner for the South West, on behalf of the Secretary of State, has recently confirmed that the Exeter Diocesan Board of Education has been given approval to sponsor the new primary free school on land to the north of Crediton Road, Okehampton.

Summary of Reason(s) for Decision Taken:

At its meeting on 12 July 2017, Cabinet gave approval to complete the full selection process for a new school proposer for a new 210 place primary school with early years provision, increasing to 420 places to serve the expanding community of Okehampton from September 2018.

Three bids to run the new school were received from the Red Kite Academy Trust, The United School Trust and the Exeter Diocesan Board of Education working in partnership with delivery partners Okehampton Primary School, Okehampton College and the Dartmoor Federation.

Local Authorities may assess bids against their specification for the new school and can, if they wish, recommend their preferred proposer to the Regional Schools Commissioner who will make the final decision on behalf of the Secretary of State. Cabinet agreed at its meeting on 11 March 2015 that the Local Authority will continue to offer their assessment of proposals to the Regional Schools Commissioner and the Head of Education and Learning will consult with the Cabinet Member for Children, Schools and Skills on the submission. It was agreed that the final determination on the recommended proposer would therefore be made by Cabinet Member.

A detailed assessment of the three bids was undertaken by officers but due to challenges over whether the proposers had been approved by the Department for Education as sponsors, the diversity of bids and the need to balance the straight assessment with the local community views and the potential to offer choice and diversity, the Local Authority informed the Regional Schools Commissioner that it felt unable to categorically recommend a preferred sponsor.

The Regional Schools Commissioner for the South West, on behalf of the Secretary of State, has recently confirmed that the Exeter Diocesan Board of Education has been given approval to sponsor the new primary free school on land to the north of Crediton Road, Okehampton.

Summary of Alternatives or Options considered and rejected:

N.A.

Details of any conflict of interest and dispensation granted to the Officer taking the decision or by any Member of the Council in delegating responsibility for any specific express delegation:

None.

Contact for enquiries/further information: Christine McNeil, School Organisation (Policy) Manager, Room AB2, Lucombe House, County Hall. Email christine.mcneil@devon.gov.uk
Decision Date: 5 February 2018

A copy of this decision and any supporting documentation considered by the Officer taking this decision may also be made available or inspection by the public at the Council’s Offices or posted upon payment of any copying and postage charges. Any member of the public wishing to take up either of these options is asked to please ring 01392 382888 or email: members.services@devon.gov.uk