Site for new secondary school in Daventry finally identified on council owned land

A long wait to find a site for a new secondary school in Daventry appears to finally be over.

The plot of land identified for the new school is next to the Icon on Eastern Way.
The plot of land identified for the new school is next to the Icon on Eastern Way.

Daventry District Council is set to agree to dispose of land it owns on Eastern Way, next to Daventry Hill School and near to the Civic Offices.

It appears to potentially end frustrations to find a site in the town after the Department for Education (DfE) approved a secondary school some years ago as part of a free schools programme.

The other site front runner was the upcoming North East Daventry urban extension, but the council report said that LocatED, the DfE’s school sites company that had been brought in to assist the council in finding a site, had not been able to hold any ‘meaningful negotiations’ with the developers. There still remains a slim possibility however that the school could end up within the development. Other sites that have now definitely been ruled out include Daventry Sports Park on Western Avenue and Malabar Fields.

An illustrative layout of how the school could look. The plans are not final though.

This has led to the proposals at Eastern Way, which will see the land disposed of to the Secretary of State, although a period of consultation will come first. A small green below Falconers Close would remain open for use by the public, but the rest of the site is likely to play home to a 1,050 place secondary school – with Tove Learning Trust having already successfully applied to establish the new secondary school.

The need for a new school was highlighted in a 2016 government consultation which named Daventry as a place which had ‘poor levels of access’ to secondary schools. E-Act Parker Academy had 1,135 pupils on its books as of January, but ‘requires improvement’ according to its latest Ofsted report. Meanwhile, a further 630 students attend Danetre & Southbrook Learning Village, which is rated ‘good’.

Northampton College Daventry Campus also had 531 pupils, of which around 450 are within the 16-18 age group, making the total secondary age pupils within the town at around 2,200.

Analysis from the Office for National Statistics carried out in 2018 indicates that around 1,050 young people who might ‘reasonably be expected’ to be educated in Daventry are not at a school in the town.

The land as pictured driving on Eastern Way.

Outlining the impact a new school could have on the existing institutions in the town, the latest district council report states: “Ideally the main effect would be, over time, to draw young people to be educated in Daventry who would otherwise have attended schools in other places, whilst raising educational aspiration and attainment across the town.

“However, it is clearly possible that it may attract pupils who otherwise would have been educated in the other schools in the town. Whilst it is to be hoped that the pressure this applies would result in a general raising of standards, it could also result in a school becoming unviable.”

It adds: “However, given the purpose of these schools is to secure the best life chances for the young people of the area, it is suggested that the risk of such an outcome is justified against the opportunity a new school would provide.”

An interesting paragraph in the report however appears to not indefinitely rule out another site within the new urban extension to the north of the town. It reads: “A possible alternative outcome is that the council’s willingness to provide a site triggers a determination on the part of the developers of the North East Daventry urban extension to secure the school as part of that development. Since that would achieve the same outcomes for the town and surrounding area, that would be equally welcome.”

Members of the council’s strategy group – which meets next Thursday (July 9) – have been recommended by council officers to approve the proposal, which would also allow the authority the chance to repurchase the disposed land if it is not redeveloped within a certain timescale. That timescale has yet to be disclosed.

Ultimately, any decision the strategy group makes with regards to starting the process of disposing of the land would also require the approval of the full council, which next meets on July 23.