St Agnes ACE Academy
School Expansion Building Project
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
ABOUT WHY THE SCHOOL IS EXPANDING AND THE NEED FOR A NEW BUILDING
Qu 1 Why does the school need to expand?
Over the past few years there have been many more families requesting places for their children at St. Agnes School than there have been places for them. Cornwall Council’s Access and Infrastructure team is responsible for ensuring that there are sufficient pupil places within each local area of the county. They forecast significantly growing pressure for pupil places in the St. Agnes, and most notably in St. Agnes itself.
This is why our school was approached to make up a second Reception class for September 2015 and why we are offering another second Reception class in September 2016. Starting in September 2016 we will have outgrown our current building, and the demand for places at our school is due to grow even more from 2017. This is why our school needs to expand.
Qu 2 Why is such a big new building needed?
To meet the demand for pupil places in the St. Agnes area described above, our school will grow into a two-form entry school within the next five years. This means that there will eventually be two classes for each year group. Ultimately, we will need fourteen classrooms and that is why the new extension will provide eight classrooms along with associated learning and care spaces. In time it will provide accommodation for Key Stage 2 children (age 7 to 11).
Qu 3 Who decided the school needed to expand – was there a consultation process?
The Local Authority (Cornwall County Council) is charged with and is given money by the government for ensuring that there are sufficient pupil places in the parts of Cornwall where the demand for them lies. The LA’s Access and Infrastructure team’s latest forecast figures shows clearly that the demand is in this area, and especially in St. Agnes.
The Local Authority approached the governing body in Spring 2015 to consider expanding the school subject to feasibility studies confirming that this school was the most suitable school for expansion; governors agreed in principle. Confirmation was received in July that St. Agnes School was the site selected by the LA for expansion and the governing body agreed to expand the school subject to feasibility studies confirming that the intricacies of the site would actually allow it to be expanded. The results of those studies and building plans were presented to St Agnes ACE Academy Local Advisory Board (the academy’s governing body in October 2015). When this firm proposal was put forward, the consultation process began.
St Agnes ACE Academy’s families, neighbours of the school, community groups and the Parish Council were invited to view the plans, ask questions and offer comments both in writing and in person at an open-house event held on 20th October lasting from the end of the school day into the evening. Along with the Headteacher and governors, representatives of the architects, the Local Authority Access and Infrastructure and Capital Strategy teams and the project’s travel plan consultant were on hand, and there was additionally a facility to post comments, concerns and questions after the event by email. Up to 100 people attended this event and several people made use of the email facility. This phase of the consultation process lasted until December, when the planning application for the school expansion project was lodged with Cornwall Council Planning Department. All of the comments and questions that had been received during this period were collated and, as promised, submitted to the planners with the application.
During the next part of the consultation process, members of the public were invited to submit comments in relation to the planning application on the CornwallCouncil’s online planning portal. The comments arising from both phases of the consultation process formed part of the submission which the Planning Officer considered before approving the application on 31st March.
At school, we have kept families updated through posts on the school website, signposting people to relevant information and documents. As the project begins to gain pace, we are making improvements to how much, how often and how wide information is shared by dedicating monthly updates, FAQs and a dedicated email box for comments on the school website and posing updates in the village newspaper, Bolster.
Qu 4 How big will the school get - will there be further expansions?
St. Agnes Academy will grow into a two-form entry primary school, with a pupil population of up to 420, by 2020. The current school expansion project at the school has future-proofed the school to be able to meet this demand, and there are no further expansions planned. It is likely that there will be other school expansion projects in other schools in the wider area in the coming years.
Qu 5 Increased traffic congestion was raised as a concern during the planning approval process – how will this be managed during the project and afterwards?
There will inevitably be disruption and inconvenience while the building works are going on. In the next couple of weeks governors, school staff and project managers will be working with the county Sustrans (Sustainable Transport) Officer dedicated to this project to provide a workable solution to traffic problems occasioned by the building project. Our priority will always be safety, so we will be looking primarily at safe delivery of children to school and pick up of children from school, safe and secure movement around the site and access for vulnerable children, from the time the works are due to begin at the end of May. We will be providing a walking bus service from September and, during the year, other measures contained in the Travel Plan (you can see the Travel Plan as part of the Planning Application on the planning portal):
At each step of the way, we will update you.
Qu 6 Who is paying for the project, does it mean less will be spent on teaching?
The whole school expansion project is funded through the government’s Targeted Basic Need Programme, and not by other educational money held by the LA, the Academy Trust or St. Agnes Academy. Of course, if we want to make certain improvements to the LA design, such as the incorporation of greener energy solutions or more flexible learning spaces to anticipate the school’s educational needs in the future, we have to fund at least part of these ourselves..
In these days of falling school funding, the provision at our school of a new, exciting, flexible and energy efficient learning environment that won’t need as much spending on maintenance and keeping it fit for purpose will enable us to spend more, relatively speaking, on teaching and learning.
ABOUT THE CONSTRUCTION PROJECT
Qu 1 Can I see the plans for the building and what it will look like when finished?
The plans were first posted on the school website in October and were available to view in school. Final versions form part of the planning application submitted for approval and are available on the planning portal ref planning application number PA15/11685.
You can see the plans at
Qu 2 When was planning permission granted?
Planning permission for the school extension and alterations to the existing building were granted with conditions on 31st March 2016. As at 3rd May, we are awaiting the outcome of the planning application which was submitted for a temporary unit to be used to house two classes during the course of the building works (Ref planning application number PA16/02678.
Qu 3 Are the plans final; will there be any changes?
The new building can only be built according to the approved plans which include the new building itself and the play and parking areas.
Qu 4 Why is a temporary classroom needed, and how long will it stay?
Two temporary classrooms are needed, within one temporary building unit, for the duration of the building project. In order to accommodate a second Reception class this coming September within the existing school, another, older class will need to move into a temporary classroom while the building is going on. Also, we will lose one classroom (currently housing Y4) in the course of extending the school hall, so an additional class will need to be housed in temporary accommodation during the build. When the works are completed, in time for September 2017, the unit will be removed and three or four classes will move into the new building with six or seven remaining in the original school building.
Qu 5 Will the noise from building affect children’s lessons in the classrooms?
There will inevitably be some extra noise arising from the building works and the extent of this will vary with where each phase of the building takes place. Two phases (installing temporary classrooms at the end of this academic year and building a new building from the summer holidays until June 2017) take place away from the existing building whereas extending the school hall (during the autumn term) is likely to be heard more closely by children. We are working with the project managers to make the process as least disruptive as it can be.
Qu 6 Is it safe for children to be so near an ongoing construction project?
The project managers and builders must meet the most stringent of health and safety criteria when working in schools and we will make sure that they do. We are meeting with them in the next couple of weeks to begin the process of making absolutely sure that our children, their families and neighbours of the school are never in any danger.
Kier, the construction contractors, will be offering a series of safe yet exciting opportunities for our children to be involved in the building project as it progresses. We will update you when we know more.
Qu 7 When will the building work start? When will the building work be finished?
The first phase is planned to commence at May 2016 half term, when a retaining wall will be constructed behind the staff car park, and a temporary classroom unit will be installed. This work will be complete by the end of the summer holidays. We will have to move the school pond at this time but we are able to re-site it adjacent to the bog garden at the side of the school field.
Over the summer holidays, an access road to the site of the new building will be made and work will begin on the new building. The building is due to be completed by June 2017.
During the autumn term 2016 the school hall will be extended.
The current completion date is June 2017, with making good and reinstatement work being completed over the summer holidays.
We’ll update you monthly if and when this schedule changes.
Qu 8 Are any improvements to facilities in the present building going to be included in the building project?
The school hall will be enlarged; the school kitchen is getting a refurbishment and refit; new learning or care spaces are being created in part of what is now the Y4 classroom; the wireless network is getting an overhaul.
Qu 9 How will parking be affected during the building works?
Between Whitsun and the summer holidays, there will be a works compound in place adjacent to the KS2 playground and the works to the install the temporary classroom will occupy the staff car park. A limited number of 4 extra car parking spaces are being created at one edge of the car park. As a result, there will be significantly less car parking space in the school car park for parents and staff, particularly during the Summer term. It is planned to remove the builders’ compound during the Summer Holidays so that the lost spaces in the car park alongside the KS2 playground are returned to us for the duration of the main school build. We will not have the use of the spaces in the existing staff car park for the duration of the build, although once the temporary classroom has been removed next year this car park will be returned to us with additional parking on the site of the temporary classroom. During all of the works, the drop off point will be maintained as normal via the current in and out gates.
Qu 10 How will the building work affect traffic congestion?
Although there will be less car parking space in school, the measures we will need to have in place to meet the new travel plan and to ensure road safety may well reduce traffic congestion
ABOUT SCHOOL LIFE DURING THE PROJECT
Qu 1 Will the building work mean that children have less access to outside play space?
Outside play space will be minimally limited during the building work. For the final half term of this school year, one edge of the KS2 playground will be out of action while the retaining wall is put in; the space will be reinstated in time for the new school year. We will have access to most of the school field during the building work through a gated system - there will be more information about this in due course. Part of the Early Years outdoor area will be lost temporarily during the building work but the builders are providing an alternative, second secure Early Years outdoor area at the other side of one of the Reception classrooms. The ‘big apparatus’ will be sacrificed to the new building, but will be re-sited or replaced in another location when the work is complete.
Qu 2 Will the school kitchen continue to function during the building work?
The kitchen will be largely functional during the building work. During the autumn term, when the hall is being extended, only part of the hall will be available to the school. We have already made alternative seating arrangements for this period, involving classrooms and the hall.
Qu 3 Will the temporary classroom provide all the extra space that is needed until the new building is ready?
Yes, we have been able to make detailed plans to accommodate all our space needs during the building project.
Qu 4 Have health and safety concerns for the children because of the building works been taken into consideration?
A robust health and safety plan for this project has been developed by our Health and Safety Governor, the Trust’s Estates Manager, the Headteacher and the Project Manager, who will meet frequently and regularly to review and monitor these arrangements.
FINDING OUT MORE
Qu 1 How can I comment on the building project?
We will be setting up a dedicated email box for you to make comments or ask questions. We will make sure these are answered in a timely manner.
Qu 2 How can I find out about progress on the project and whether it is on schedule?
Monthly updates will be posted on the school website on the School Expansion page.