More than 5,000 new school places on horizon for Hampshire over next three years

A proposed major investment of £242 million could create 5,312 extra school places in Hampshire by September 2027

Jan 19 2024

Hampshire County Council has set out its proposed capital projects for Children’s Services over the next three years, which include eight new schools and two new special schools, two school expansions, and seven projects to increase provision for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) in existing schools. A report outlining the proposed capital programme for 2024/25 – 2026/27 was presented on Friday, 19 January to Councillor Edward Heron, the County Council’s Cabinet Lead Member for Children’s Services, who gave his approval for the proposals to be submitted onwards for consideration by the County Council’s Cabinet.

Commenting on the proposed programme, Councillor Heron said: “We are absolutely committed to making sure that children across Hampshire, whatever their individual needs, can attend a good quality local school where they have every opportunity to thrive and achieve. We know how vital this is in laying the foundations for their future success and in turn, the success and prosperity of our local communities and wider county. I therefore welcome and applaud the proposed major investment put forward for Hampshire schools over the next three years.

He added: “I am also mindful that this programme is proposed against a backdrop of challenging and well-documented financial pressures for Hampshire, and local government as a whole. It is thanks to careful planning that we are able to continue to present such a programme of proposed investment, with funding for approved projects to be drawn where possible from external sources including contributions from developers and central Government.”

In total, proposed new schools and expansions represent £199 million of the overall £242 million three-year programme. The additional resulting school places would contribute to a total of 19,989 new school places since 2013.

Projects include a proposed new primary school to meet the anticipated demand arising from the Wellesley development to the north of Aldershot. The proposed school would provide 420 places and is planned to open in September 2025, subject to planning consent. The £12.5 million spend for the project was also approved on Friday 19 January during a separate Decision Day for Councillor Steve Forster, the County Council’s Cabinet Member for Education.

Councillor Forster commented: “With new housing developments continuing to drive the need for additional school places in Hampshire, it is essential that we plan ahead and respond effectively to meet this demand. I am pleased to approve the spend for the project proposals for a new primary school to serve the Wellesley development in Aldershot, which subject to planning consent will form an important part of our wider planning to ensure that sufficient school places continue to remain available across the county. I also note and welcome the plan to include much needed provision for children with special educational needs, as part of these proposals.”

Places for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) remain a key focus of the capital programme, with two new proposed special schools in the pipeline including one in Whiteley which, subject to final approval, would be funded by Government following the County Council’s successful bid to the Department for Education (DfE). Additionally, over £6 million has been earmarked for proposed projects to expand SEND provision at seven existing schools by September 2024.

Other projects to be funded by the capital programme, subject to approval, include access improvements in schools and other modernisations across existing buildings, as well as projects for children’s social care and early years settings.

The capital programme for Children's Services demonstrates the Local Authority's ongoing commitment to investment in the county’s educational infrastructure, despite the significant and unrelenting cost pressures outlined in the Directorate's 2024/25 revenue budget – which relates to the operational expenditure of the day-to-day delivery of children’s services across Hampshire.   

Following approval today by the Cabinet Lead Member for Children’s Services, the capital programme recommendations will now be considered by the County Council’s Cabinet on Tuesday, 6 February, before a final decision on the County Council’s overall budget for 2024/25 is made by the full County Council on Thursday, 22 February.