Planning school places overview
The School Organisation Team is responsible for the planning of school places, reduction of surplus places, pupil projections, assessing school capacities and the publication of statutory proposals for school reorganisations.
Planning obligations (Section 106)
Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 allows education authorities to obtain funds from developers of new housing developments where the number of houses being built will require extra school places.
The planning obligations policy provides a broad approach to planning obligations for necessary education infrastructure:
It provides the basis for calculating likely educational contributions and enables indicative figures to be provided to developers - without undertaking an exhaustive analysis – and is particularly helpful at enquiry and pre-application stages.
Where it is deemed appropriate, the county council reserves the right to determine an educational contribution using a different methodology. This may be where a more precise cost for providing additional and necessary educational facilities is known, where a development is of a large size or where one or more separate developments are to be phased across an area.
The school organisation team is currently reviewing the planning obligations policy.
We welcome and encourage discussions before a developer submits a planning application to the borough or district councils. Past experience has shown that there are a number of potential benefits to obtaining pre-application advice including reducing the time and cost involved in working up proposals and reducing the subsequent cost of abortive applications. Clarifying what information you need to provide with your application will also help speed up the decision making process once an application has been submitted.
All information provided in the pre-application advice will cover the relevant level of detail and supporting information necessary to provide a valid assessment of school place planning issues and whether an education contribution is likely to be required.
This advice can be obtained via the developer online advice / data request form and there will be an appropriate fee charged determined by the type of enquiry. This online form will need to be completed, any documents uploaded and the fee paid online. You can also register which allows you to recall your previous applications and auto-fill your contact details if you have many applications.
We also liaise closely with our in-house specialists in planning, natural and historic environment, flood risk management and roads and highways who can provide a wide range of similar pre-application advice to assist developers in preparing to submit planning applications. If you use our online application and payment facility you can also apply and pay for any of these disciplines as required at the same time.
Pre-application advice service costs
We offer the following pre-application advice services, which are charged as follows:
New analysis is charged at £240.00 (£200 + VAT), providing pre-planning advice for any proposed housing development
Re-analysis is charged at £138.00 (£115 + VAT) for a modification to a previous pre-application request. Please note that to meet the criteria for re-analysis, the number of dwellings must be within 20% of the original dwelling numbers and the re-analysis must be within 3 months.
If you require any pre-application meetings with us it will be an additional cost of £132.00 (£110 + VAT) per meeting.
We aim to respond to your pre-application advice request within 15 working days, however, this may be longer if we require further information to be able to undertake the necessary analysis.
In response to increasing numbers of pupils in parts of Staffordshire, mainly due to new local plan housing proposed by district and borough councils, the county council has identified potential sites for new free schools over the next five years and beyond.
The update below from November 2019 provides an indication of where new schools could be built and in which academic year they might open.
Sites for potential new schools
Please note: the details are subject to change as they are based on local plan housing trajectories, housing development and pupil demographics.
Independent education studies
As part of the evidence base to support the local plan process Staffordshire County Council jointly commissioned two independent studies with two local planning authorities; Stafford Borough Council and East Staffordshire Borough Council. Consultants provided independent analysis of the necessary education provision to mitigate the impact of proposed housing over the local plan period in the two boroughs.
These reports are available to view on the education studies page.
Infant class size legislation
It is a statutory requirement that all infant class sizes are limited to a maximum of 30 pupils per one school teacher throughout the school day, except for school assemblies, music, drama and sports lessons.
In the majority of cases, Staffordshire schools have maintained infant class sizes within the legal limit. However, pupil level annual school census (PLASC) returns made each year identify a small number of schools with infant classes of more than 30 pupils.
You can view the infant class size legislation on the Department for Education website.
Schools and other authorised users of the Staffordshire Learning Net (SLN) are able to view pupil projections.