Bradfields Academy Expansion Consultation – February 2024

To Pupils, Parents/Carers, Staff, School Leaders & Stakeholders,

The Trustees of Fortis Trust, who oversee Bradfields Academy are proposing to increase the total capacity of Bradfields Academy to 444 students, increasing the total student capacity by 40 places.  

This is in recognition of the additional space provided by the opening of a 2-storey teaching block in September 2022, which will enable this capacity increase.

Fortis Trust Board of Trustees in conjunction with Medway Council would like to increase the total capacity Bradfields Academy by 40 places, to recognise the additional capacity created by the recent opening of a two-story classroom block, which has increased the potential capacity to provide student placements for secondary age students.

By increasing the capacity, it enables the academy and the Trust to have the ability to support the local authority to address the current lack of available places for young people aged 4-19 years who have Education & Health Care Plans (EHCP) due to having ASD and complex special education needs and disabilities. The build formed part of the Local Authorities drive to expand SEND placement provision across Medway as part of their High Needs Safety Valve plan.

Medway Council fully supports this proposal:

Medway Council is fully supportive of the proposed expansion of Bradfields Academy. The expansion of Bradfields Academy would provide additional specialist provision in an area of need. By providing places within Medway, it will reduce the need to place pupils out of area, which has an impact on their wellbeing and ability to learn. The proposed expansion supports Medway’s ambition for all children to achieve their potential in school and would therefore afford greater opportunities for Medway pupils to so.

Currently there is an expected shortfall of over 500 specialist places within Medway per year until 2026. Often young people who have an EHCP and require specialist educational provision do not secure a school place within Medway and as such they are sent to be educated out of the area. This is not only costly but requires children with often very complex needs to have very long daily journeys to and from school; they often lose their sense of the local community and become socially isolated from their potential peers within their home area.

Bradfields Academy is rated Outstanding by Ofsted, and so the Council has full confidence in their ability to successfully implement the proposed expansion. The Council has recently funded and delivered a new classroom block on the site to provide additional accommodation to help meet demand for specialist places. If the proposal is approved, the council will work with the academy trust to ensure that the places provided are utilised appropriately.

Celia Buxton

Assistant Director Education and SEND, Medway Council

The demand for this is evident; currently the academy has to decline over 60% of the applications for a placement due to the lack of available spaces particularly for secondary and post 16 placements. Walderslade and surrounding areas are also experiencing growth in housing; therefore, more places are required.

Bradfields Academy is an oversubscribed Ofsted Outstanding provision, which is very popular with families across Medway. The academy has a successful track record, with particular emphasis placed on supporting young people successfully to move onto further education or into employment. This success has led to the academy facing the challenges of pressure for places. The opening of the new building in September 2022 has given us the capacity to accommodate more young people; however, we need our new capacity to be officially recognised.

  1. How will the Academy deal with any possible increased traffic, congestion and parking?

The vast majority of students will be transported to the academy on dedicated school transport. If we were to reach the full capacity of 444 students, this could potentially require two additional minibuses. The academy will ensure that all student transport provided by the Local Authority can be accommodated onsite, which will prevent any potential congestion on Churchill Avenue and the surrounding area. The academy is already working towards increased provision of parking facilities on site. All staff parking needs will be fully accommodated on site to ensure local roads remain unimpeached.

 

  1. Will there be changes to the admission arrangements for Bradfields Academy?

No, the admission arrangements will remain the same.

For admission arrangements, please visit: https://www.bradfieldsacademy.co.uk/about/admissions/

 

  1. How will the increase in capacity happen and how many young people will there be within each year group?

Our aim is to phase in the increase of placements to reach capacity over a two-year period attaining full capacity by September 2025. Please see the table below for detail of the proposed changes to reach capacity:

Key StageYear groupCurrent number of studentsProposed change in placesPlaces per year group if proposal approved
ReceptionR303
11808
12505
23707
2412012
25909
26404
3754054
3857054
3949554
41045954
41151354
51238644
513311344
51431436
 Total40440444

 

  1. The consultation process – indicative timeline

We are undertaking a consultation period on this proposal for Bradfields Academy as required by the statutory process for school expansion. Below is an outline of the timeframe for the consultation period.

DateActivity
19th February 2024Public consultation period lasting for four weeks

26th February 2024

3pm-5pm

Hybrid meeting (in-person/virtual) available for stakeholders and interested parties to attend to discuss consultation. To register intention to attend please email: marie.sweetlove@fortistrust.co.uk who will provide further detail.
18th March 2024Public consultation closes
25th March 2024Significant change form sent to Department for Education (DfE)
April 2024Formal Decision made by the Regional Schools Commissioner (RSC)

 

  1. How can I give my views?

There are a number of ways to give us your views on this proposal:

  • Complete the online consultation response form via https://forms.office.com/e/isPijEvgAr
  • Send your response form to: Mrs M Sweetlove-Smyth, Fortis Trust, C/O Bradfields Academy, Churchill Avenue, Kent, ME5 0LB
  • Email your response to: office@fortistrust.co.uk with the title – CONSULTATION RESPONSE by the morning of 18th March 2024
  • Hand deliver your response to Bradfields Academy’s main reception by the morning of 18th March 2024

 

  1. What happens next?

This consultation stage closes on 18th March 2024. A report summarising the responses received during the consultation period will be prepared. This will be presented to the Regional Schools Commissioner and Head Teachers Board, who will recommend the future direction of the proposal.

Yours sincerely

Mrs M Sweetlove-Smyth

CEO

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Bradfields Academy Expansion Consultation Feb 2024