Ribble Valley school set to expand to meet growing demand

Ribble Valley high school, St Augustine’s RC in Billington, is set to be expanded.
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Lancashire County Council's cabinet is expected to agree plans to permanently increase St Augustine's to meet a growing demand for places.

The county council has a statutory duty to ensure that a primary or secondary school place is available for every child of statutory school age living in Lancashire who requests one.

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In Ribble Valley, there is a rising secondary school population due to unprecedented housing development and an increasing primary school population. For the 2023/24 intake, the school place provision forecasts are showing an expected intake to Year 7 of 1,066 pupils, suggesting a potential shortfall of 38 places. In all years to 2028 it is anticipated that there will be insufficient places to accommodate demand and, therefore, the need is for permanent places.

St Augustine's RC Secondary School, BillingtonSt Augustine's RC Secondary School, Billington
St Augustine's RC Secondary School, Billington

The proposed expansion of St Augustine's Roman Catholic High School would provide for a permanent increase of 25 additional pupils in Year 7 from the academic year 2023/24, ensuring that sufficient places are available for future year groups through to 2028. It would also allow for housing development levels to be accommodated.

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On Thursday, April 7th, Lancashire County Council's cabinet will be asked to approve a permanent increase in the admission number of St Augustine's Roman Catholic High School from 215 to 240 places from the academic year 2023/24.

Cabinet will also be asked to approve the capital expenditure to provide additional

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accommodation and associated works at St Augustine's Roman Catholic High School.

The expansion would increase the school's overall capacity to 1200 mainstream places.

As a Voluntary Aided Catholic school, this proposal was subject to consultation and approval by the Trustee and Salford Diocese. The proposal was approved at the Diocese School's Committee on 8th March 2022.

In line with the Special Educational Needs and Disability Sufficiency Strategy, St Augustine's has also expressed an interest in having a Special Educational Needs unit. The school and Inclusion Service have undertaken an informal consultation on the provision of a unit.

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The outcome of the informal consultation determined that a proposal for the provision of a Special Educational Needs unit be taken forward at the school, as part of their mainstream expansion. The unit would accommodate up to 16 permanent places for pupils with Speech, Language and Communication needs.

A feasibility study has been carried out and recommended provision of new accommodation in a separate block in an agreed location within the site, which would house one general teaching department and the Special Educational Needs unit provision.

Informal consultation to provide special educational needs places on the site has been undertaken as required, and this will be followed by a formal consultation later this year.

Edwina Grant OBE, Executive Director of Education and Children's Services for Lancashire County Council, said: "The expansion of St Augustine's will help ensure we are able to offer a school place to every child of statutory school age living in Lancashire who requests one.

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"In addition to this mainstream expansion, we will also soon begin a formal consultation to provide special educational needs places on the site.

"This will support children and young people to achieve their full potential in education and future employment."