Agenda, decisions and draft minutes

Extra Ordinary, Cabinet - Thursday, 29th April, 2021 10.00 am

Venue: MS Teams Live Event

Contact: Kate Critchel  01305 252234 - Email:

Note: Additonal Meeting 


No. Item


Declarations of Interest

To receive any declarations of interest.


There were no declarations of interest to report.


Public Participation


To receive questions or statements on the business of the committee from town and parish councils and members of the public. Public speaking has been suspended for virtual committee meetings during the Covid-19 crisis and public participation will be dealt with through written submissions only.


Please note that any questions and/or  statements  for this Extra Ordinary meeting must relate to the matter for which this meeting has been called.


Members of the public who live, work or represent an organisation within the Dorset Council area, may submit up to two questions or a statement of up to a maximum of 450 words.  All submissions must be sent electronically to by the deadline set out below.  When submitting a question please indicate who the question is for and include your name, address and contact details.  Questions and statements received in line with the council’s rules for public participation will be published as a supplement to the agenda.


Questions will be read out by an officer of the council and a response given by the appropriate Portfolio Holder or officer at the meeting.  All questions, statements and responses will be published in full within the minutes of the meeting. 


The deadline for submission of the full text of a question or statement is 8.30am on 26 April 2021




There were no public questions.


Questions from Members

To receive questions submitted by councillors. The deadline for

receipt of questions is 8.30am on 26 April 2021


There were no questions from members.


Outcome from consultation on provision in Shaftesbury pdf icon PDF 219 KB

To consider a report of the Portfolio Holder for Children, Education, Skills and Early Help.

Additional documents:




1.    That, following public consultation on the future use of the former St Mary’s School site, the consultation report be noted and that the Council’s preferred option for the use of the site proceed;


2.    That the Business Plan to use the site as an independent special school for children and young people of Dorset and the longer-term vision, be approved;


3.    That the formation of a company limited by shares and the entry into such ancillary legal documentation, as may be necessary in line with the proposed scope contained in the Business Plan, be approved;


4.      That the granting of indemnities for personal liability incurred by council officers acting in the role of directors of the company, be approved;


5.    That Cabinet agrees to the granting of a lease of the site to the company on terms to be approved by the Executive Director for Place in consultation with the Executive Director for People – Children’s; and that service agreements between the Council and the company to deliver the Business Plan on terms to be approved by the Executive Director for People - Children's.


6.    That authority be delegated the Portfolio Holder for Children, Education, Skills and Early Help in consultation with the Executive Director for People – Children’s to deliver the Dorset Council actions within the Business Plan.


Reason for the decision 1:   
The consultation on the future use of the former St Mary’s School site received 1,427 responses from a wide variety of individuals and organisations. Nearly 90% of responses came from Dorset Council residents, including 32% of responses which came from local residents (within 3 miles of the site).

There was overwhelming support for the St Marys site to continue to be used for educational purposes, with 92% overall in favour. In addition, there was very strong support for specifically using St Marys as a school for children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) with 89% overall in favour alongside 82% of respondents that signalled strong support for the additional use of the St Mary’s site to create complementary facilities for vulnerable children, young people and adults.

This demonstrated strong support to deliver the Council’s preferred option to create a new independent school for children and young people of Dorset with SEND.


Reason for the decision 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6
In order to deliver the Council’s preferred option, a detailed 5-year Business Plan has been completed setting out the next steps the Council will need to take to establish a Company to operate the new independent special school alongside the longer-term vision for the site and arrangements for the land to be used by the Company. The Business Plan sets out that a Company that will be set up for the purposes of operating the site and school, and this will be through the formation of Company Limited by Shares (which may be established as a standard or Community Interest Company). Approval of this decision allows the named Members  ...  view the full decision text for item 137.


The Portfolio Holder for Children’s , Education, Skills and Early Help presented a report on the purchase of St Mary’s School site in Shaftesbury and on the outcome of the public consultation in respect of the council’s preferred option for the site. Prior to presenting the detail of the report a short communications video about the site was shared with the meeting.

In presenting the report the Portfolio Holder advised that acquiring the former St Mary’s school site was an unique opportunity to deliver an independent school for children with special educational needs (SEND). The site had extensive facilities which would enable the council to build capacity at a rapid rate, but also at a fraction of the capital cost of a new build proposal. 

The Portfolio Holder further  advised that the council was setting out to make the site a “centre of excellence” in the field of SEND provision and it aimed to complement the councils current provision and work that was being carried out within mainstream schools. He also took the time to thank officers, and the project board for the work they had carried out to date.

In respect of the public consultation process, the Portfolio Holder reported that  a total of 1427 responses had been received. 92% of those who responded were in favour of the site continuing to be used for educational purposes. With 89% supporting the proposal to open a school for SEND provision. He further reported that the proposal had seen support from neighbouring authorities.

The Portfolio Holder advised that the business plan set out a phase of growth for pupil numbers; starting with an initial cohort of 60 pupils, expected to take up their school place in January 2022.  There was planned growth of places over the next five years with the aim of achieving 280 pupils by 2026.

In concluding his presentation the Portfolio Holder set out and proposed the reports recommendations.

The Chairman welcomed the report and  invited questions from members not on Cabinet.

In response to a question regarding trading as a limited company by shares rather than guarantee and around the arrangements for staffing as an independent facility,  the Portfolio Holder and Executive Director of People (Children’s) confirmed that to trade as a limited company by shares was the best model recommended to the council and the running of an independent educational establishment. In respect of appointing staff, an interim team would first be put into place with permanent staffing being recruited as the independent education establishment progressed.

Responding to questions regarding placements and sustainability, the Executive Director for People Children’s confirmed that conversations had been held with neighbouring councils and it was likely that some may wish to purchase placements. However  all councils looked to try to keep their children as close to home as possible. Members were further advised that over a third of Dorset children with education health and care plans lived within a suitable distance of the site.

Cabinet members made the following observations:-  ...  view the full minutes text for item 137.


Urgent items

To consider any items of business which the Chairman has had prior notification and considers to be urgent pursuant to section 100B (4) b) of the Local Government Act 1972. The reason for the urgency shall be recorded in the minutes.



There were no urgent items considered at the meeting.


Exempt Business

To move the exclusion of the press and the public for the following item in view of the likely disclosure of exempt information within the meaning of paragraph X of schedule 12 A to the Local Government Act 1972 (as amended).

The public and the press will be asked to leave the meeting whilst the item of business is considered.

There is no exempt business scheduled for this meeting.


There was no exempt business to report.