Toggle menu

School Organisation Plan 2021

Section 2: School Place Planning in Stockton-on-Tees

Making major changes to school organisation

Changes to school organisation such as opening new schools, closing schools, or enlarging them cannot happen without consulting everyone likely to be affected. In April 2016 the Department for Education updated its guides that provided information on the procedures established by The Education and Inspections Act 2006 (EIA 2006) and The School Organisation (Prescribed Alterations to Maintained Schools) and (Establishments and Discontinuance of Schools) Regulations 2013. The guidance sets out how any such proposals are decided. On 1 February 2011 the Education Act 2011 (EA 2011) amended the Education and Inspections Act 2006 (EIA 2006) to change the arrangements for establishing new schools. Most new schools will now be established via the academy/free school presumption and the related departmental advice describe the department's expectations of how that process should operate..


An Academy is a state-funded independent school which may have one or more sponsors. An Academy may be put forward in a competition for a new school, or the Council and potential sponsors may approach the government directly to suggest an Academy to replace one or more existing schools. The governing body of an existing school may decide to apply to the Secretary of State to convert to Academy status without a sponsor.

Free schools

A Free School is a new school set up with the consent of the Secretary of State by a group of parents or other interested people. Like an Academy, a Free School is an independent school funded directly by the government.

Other changes to schools

Proposals for other changes such as closing a school, enlarging it, or changing the age range, may be published by the Council or sometimes by school governing bodies. In most situations the Council will decide these proposals. In some circumstances there will be a right of appeal to an adjudicator. In all cases the people likely to be affected by any change - particularly parents, school staff and governors - must be consulted before any decision is taken. The decision-maker must also take account of guidance issued by the government.

More information about school organisation is available on the website of the Department for Education.

The aim is for schools to be more in charge of their own decisions about size and composition and to be able to respond to what parents want locally without being unduly restricted by process.

Forecasting Primary and Secondary pupil numbers

Since 2015 the Council has been producing its own pupil forecasts that have been the basis of SCAP submissions and informed the SOP. However, for SCAP 2021 the Council has returned to using the Tees Valley Combined Authority (TVCA) produced and supplied forecasting tables and methodology.

Pupil numbers in primary schools

Pupil numbers entering Reception have continued to fall in recent years in line with national lower birth rates and the number of surplus places in some schools across the six planning areas has increased. This is something we are monitoring as it is predicted to continue for the next couple of years. Overall surplus across the borough has risen slightly to 13% and expected to rise.

Pupil numbers in secondary schools

A significant number of our secondary schools are oversubscribed reflecting parental choice. In recent years the LA has invested in increasing capacity in several schools to provide a little surplus in each of the three planning areas. This was to accommodate the forecasted growth in the demand for places as previously higher births entered Primary and transitioned into Secondary - at present this represents a surplus of 9% for Sept 2021. However due to parental preference this is geographically focussed, in only a handful of schools.

We have seen steady growth entering secondary since 2016/17 which led to the LA commencing its Capital Strategy to meet predicted demand. This included an additional 300 places at Northfield School (Billingham & Wolviston) for 2018/19, 210 places at Our Lady & St Bede Catholic Academy (Stockton North & Central) for 2019/20. A further 200 places at All Saints CE Academy (Stockton South) planned for completion in late 2021 / early 2022, but we can offer increased places - supported by temporary classrooms (that will be removed once building work is complete). In addition, we are working with Outwood Grange to increase capacity by 300 places at its Bishopsgarth Academy (Stockton North & Central) to meet demand from current primary numbers over the next few years whilst providing some capacity for predicted demand from local planned / approved housing. This is expected to be in place for 2023/24.

The secondary Capital strategy is also mindful that across Stockton this growth will peak 2023/24 and follow National trends as lower births across the borough have seen a yearly reduction entering Reception since 2016/17. This lower cohort will increase our surplus position in Secondary in future years, this can be evidenced as for Sept 2021 entry we have placed 2460 Year 7 children whilst the equivalent Sept 2021 Reception cohort was only 2270 - an 8% reduction. With continuing lower birth rates equating to lower primary pupils for at least for the next 3 /4 years will see the gap increasing.

It is also expected that this falling trend of lower pupil numbers could remain, this despite early indications Nationally that lockdown has contributed to an increase in births during 2020/21, however this hasn't been reflected in birth figures across Stockton-on-Tees.


In Stockton, since the last publication of the SOP we have seen a steady increase in the number of primary and secondary schools which have converted to Academy status (see Tables 1-4 for more details).

Table 1. Primary

Billingham and Wolviston

SchoolSponsorDate converted
Bewley1590 Trust01 September 2019
Our Lady Most Holy RosaryBishop Hogarth Catholic Education Trust01 January 2019
Pentland1Excellence MAT01 July 2017
St John's RCBishop Hogarth Catholic Education Trust01 April 2016
St Joseph's RCBishop Hogarth Catholic Education Trust01 April 2016
St Paul's RCBishop Hogarth Catholic Education Trust01 April 2016
WolvistonPrince Regent Street Trust01 October 2018


North Stockton

SchoolSponsorDate converted
CrooksbarnAdAstra Academy Trust01 April 2018
Frederick NattrassNorthern Education Trust01 September 2013
Hardwick GreenEnquire Trust01 June 2013
Harrow GateEnquire Trust01 September 2014
NortonNorthern Education Trust01 January 2014
RosebrookAdAstra Adacemy Trust01 November 2016
St Gregory's RCBishop Hogarth Catholic Education Trust01 April 2013
St Josephe's RC (Norton)Bishop Hogarth Catholic Education Trust01 February 2019
St Mark's CE1Excellence MAT01 July 2017


Central Stockton

SchoolSponsorDate converted
HartburnPrince Regent Street Trust01 October 2018
St Bede RCBishop Hogarth Catholic Education Trust01 December 2013
St Cuthbert's RCBishop Hogarth Catholic Education Trust01 April 2021
St Patrick's RCBishop Hogarth Catholic Education Trust01 April 2021
The Oak TreeNorthern Education Trust01 September 2013



SchoolSponsorDate converted
Bader1590 Trust01 September 2017
Christ the King RCNicholas Postgate Catholic Academy Trust01 September 2015
St Patrick's RCNicholas Postgate Catholic Academy Trust01 September 2015
Thornaby CEDales Academy Trust01 July 2019
VillagePrince Regent Street Trust01 October 2018


Ingleby Barwick

SchoolSponsorDate converted
St Francis of Assisi CEDales Academy Trust01 August 2019
St Therese of Lisieux RCNicholas Postgate Catholic Academy Trust01 September 2015
WhinstoneVision Academy Learning Trust01 December 2017


Eaglescliffe and Yarm

SchoolSponsorDate converted
Egglescliffe CECE Diocese of Durham MAT01 November 2017
Junction FarmVision Academy Learning Trust01 February 2014
Kirklevington1590 Trust01 June 2018
Layfield1590 Trust01 September 2018
Levendale1590 Trust01 April 2019
PrestonLingfield Trust01 April 2021
St Mary's CECE Diocese of Durham MAT01 November 2018
The LinksVision Academy Learning Trust01 August 2016
YarmEnquire Trust01 September 2015


Table 2. Secondary

Billingham and Wolviston

SchoolSponsorDate converted
St Michael's RCBishop Hogarth Catholic Education Trust01 September 2013


Stockton North and Central

SchoolSponsorDate converted
BishopsgarthOutwood Grange Academy Trust01 November 2016
GrangefieldNorthern Education Trust01 January 2014
Ian Ramsey CEthe Venerable Bede CE Academy01 December 2014
North ShoreNorthern Education Trust01 September 2010
Our Lady and St Bede RCBishop Hogarth Catholic Education Trust01 February 2015


Stockton South

SchoolSponsorDate converted
All Saints CEDales Academy Trust01 May 2013
Conyers1590 Trust01 February 2013
EgglescliffeVision Academy Learning Trust01 August 2016
St Patrick's Catholic CollegeNicholas Postgate Catholic Academy Trust01 September 2015
ThornabyTeesside Learning Trust01 September 2010


Table 3. Free schools

Billingham and Wolviston

SchoolSponsorDate opened
Wynyard CE PrimaryCE Diocese of Durham MAT01 September 2015


Stockton South

SchoolSponsorDate opened
Ingleby Manor Free School and Sixth FormDelta Academies Trust01 September 2014


Table 4. Special schools and others

SchoolSponsorDate opened
Abbey Hill School Technology CollegeHorizons Specialist Academy Trust01 August 2013
Ash TreesAscent Trust01 November 2014
GreengatesHorizons Specialist Academy Trust01 August 2013
WestlandsHorizons Specialist Academy Trust01 August 2013
Bishopton CentreTees Valley Collaborative Trust01 May 2021


Academies are independent schools however for completeness this plan contains information about the number of places in Academies and projections of future student numbers. The number of Academy conversions is up to date as at the time of this report being produced.

Schools in Stockton-on-Tees

Early years education

Education is not compulsory for children under the age of five, but local authorities must ensure that a nursery place is available for every three and four-year-old whose parents want one and for every eligible 2-year-old that meets Government criteria. Every primary school in the borough contains a nursery unit. In many schools this operates as a Foundation Stage Unit so that children can move between nursery and reception class in a flexible way to meet their individual needs. Additional nursery education places are offered by providers in the private, voluntary, and independent sectors including child minders. For further Government advice on early years please visit the DfE website

Children in Stockton-on-Tees normally start full-time school in the September following their fourth birthday, but this can be deferred until the age of five at the request of parents.

Primary schools

From 1 September 2019 there were:

  • 10 schools for pupils aged 11 to 16 of which 9 are Academies
  • 3schools for pupils aged 11 to 18 of which all are Academies including one Free School (yet to admit post 16 pupils)
  • 1 special school Academy for pupils aged 11 to 18 with a range of complex special educational needs (Abbey Hill School Technology College)
  • 1 special school Academy for children aged 5 to 16 with behavioural, social, and emotional difficulties (Westlands)
  • 1 pupil referral unit for pupils temporarily excluded from school (Bishopton Centre) which also converted 1st May 2021

Post 16 education and training in schools

The 11 to 18 schools in the above have a capacity for 796 children in their school sixth forms, available at the academies of Egglescliffe (400), Conyers (276) and Ingleby Manor Free School (150). Although the Free School yet has not admitted any pupils. In addition to School Sixth Form provision, learning and skills needs in Stockton are supported by one General FE College, one Sixth Form College and several Work Based Learning (WBL) providers offering Apprenticeships and WBL provider offering Foundation Learning.

The two colleges located within the borough are Stockton Sixth Form College and Stockton Riverside College (SRC). SRC which operates on Teesdale with Bede College and the Skills Academy at Billingham sites.

A diverse range of maintained schools

"Maintained" means that the Council provides the governing bodies of those schools with an annual budget for their running costs. The schools maintained by the Council fall into one of three categories below.

  • Community schools are owned by the Council. The Authority employs their staff and controls the admission of pupils.
  • Voluntary Controlled schools are also owned by the Authority and operate largely in the same way as community schools. The Council employs their staff and controls the admission of pupils. The main difference is that the school governing body has some members appointed by a voluntary body. All the voluntary controlled schools in Stockton-on-Tees are primary schools associated with the Church of England.
  • Voluntary Aided schools belong to a voluntary body (usually one of the Churches) although the Council normally owns their playing fields. The governing bodies of Voluntary Aided schools employ all their staff and control the admission of pupils. The governing body of a Voluntary Aided school normally contributes 10% towards the cost of any capital work on the school buildings, with the remainder funded by Government. The running costs of aided schools are funded by the Council in the same way as other schools.

In some parts of the country there are Foundation Schools. Like voluntary aided schools they own their land and buildings, they employ staff and control admissions, and the Foundation may appoint the majority of the school's governors. New Foundation Schools may be called "Trust Schools." There are no Foundation schools or Trust schools in Stockton-on-Tees.

Academies are not maintained by the Council but are independent schools funded by the government and may be supported by a private sponsor. The sponsor may appoint most governors and has influence over the curriculum of the school. Academies do not have to follow the national curriculum. They may have a longer school day and may employ staff on different conditions of service. Academies do not charge fees to students.

Free Schools are also independent schools funded directly by government and not maintained by Council. Any group (for example parents, a business or community group) may apply to the Secretary of State for permission to establish a Free School if they can demonstrate a demand for new school places.

At present we have two Free Schools - a 750 place secondary school in Stockton South (Ingleby Manor Free School & Sixth Form - opened in Sept 2014) and a 420 place primary schools in Billingham & Wolviston (Wynyard CE Primary - opened in Sept 2015).

The LA are aware that a further 2FE primary Free School has received recent 'approval in principle' (in Wave 14) in a neighbouring authority (Hartlepool). This despite both LA's views and in particular our concerns on School Place Planning due to increasing surplus places. We expect this proposed Free School will directly impact on primary schools in the Billingham & Wolviston area. Surplus currently stands at 11% and is predicted to increase further with some schools operating at over 15% surplus and higher.

Both LA's accept that there is always potential for future demand due to the approved / planned housing across sites in both Stockton and Hartlepool LA areas. However, there isn't any clear evidence of sufficient demand at present and for many years to come due to the lower birth rates as alluded to above. The decision to 'approve in principle' of another primary Free School raises concerns as this is not in line with School Place Planning projections and future National & local lower birth rate data.

Having a total capacity of 2785 reception places and only around 2000 live births in future years will only increase surplus places further.

The LA are also monitoring interest from local developers and sponsors for a potential 900 place secondary Free School in Wynyard which will impact school places in the Billingham & Wolviston planning area. This despite a previous application being refused in Wave 13 due to 'sufficient capacity' in the planning area and the LA as a whole and lower pupil numbers from the Wynyard area. The LA is concerned that not only will this 'free school' displace pupils from current schools (if approved) but is not sustainable longer term, as per the previously mentioned lower primary cohorts and those expected in the future due to the lower birth rates.

The LA will be able to meet the expected demand for secondary places across the borough once our Capital Investment programme is complete, providing 2550 Year 7 places. This capacity will enable the LA to have sufficient surplus to meet the peak in two years. Thereafter secondary surplus will continue to grow year on year as the lower primary cohorts leave and enter Y7 whilst the predicted lower births enter the system in the future. Our secondary capacity across our three planning areas will therefore be able to meet any growth from housing in the Wynyard area.

Table 5 below shows the number of each type of school operating in Stockton-on-Tees from September 2019.

Table 5. School types

Church of England Volutary Controlled20
Church of England Voluntary Aided20
Roman Catholic Voluntary Aided00
Free School11



A federation is a group of two or more schools that have agreed to come together, often under a single governing body. The Council cannot create a federation of schools. This must be done by the governing bodies of the schools themselves after consulting parents, staff, other schools, and the Council.

The Stockton Borough First Federation was set up on 1 April 2006. This is made up of Abbey Hill School Technology College and Westlands School, two schools that jointly provide for pupils with many kinds of special educational needs. The federation has a single governing body and one executive head teacher. The two schools remain separate schools, each with its own budget, but the single governing body can share resources (including staff) across the two schools. Both schools converted to Academy status 1st September 2013.

Demand across the Borough

Early-years places

A free part-time nursery education place is available for every three and four-year-old whose parents want to take it up and for every eligible 2-year-old that meets Government criteria. Information about this can be found at Early Education and Childcare. This may be in one of the nursery units attached to every primary school in the borough, in a nursery operated by providers in the private, voluntary, and independent sectors or with a child minder. Information about private nursery and childcare providers is available from the Families Information Service at Stockton Information Directory.

Primary school places

The spring schools census collected in January 2021 recorded a total of 19,618 children on roll in the 60 schools across the borough. This included 17,228 children attending the year groups Reception through to Y6 (primary cohort) against a capacity of 19,813 pupil places (as reported in SCAP 2021) providing a surplus of 13%. Table 6 shows the number of children in each year group as at the January 2021 census:

Table 6. Primary pupil number January 2021

Year 12345
Year 22427
Year 32489
Year 42527
Year 52582
Year 62531


A rising trend of pupil numbers peaked in September 2015 entry and has declined since.

Every school has a Published Admission Number (PAN), this is also referred to as the 'capacity' of children normally admitted into Reception (four-year-olds starting school for the first time). The total Reception capacity for entry in September 2020 (as recorded in SCAP 2021) across all primary schools was 2785. Overall, in January we had a boroughwide surplus of 13% - though some planning areas have a higher percentage of surplus than others.

Secondary school places

The spring schools census collected in January 2021 recorded a total school population of 11,844 on roll in the 13 schools across the borough. This included 11,271 children attending (Y7 to Y11) against a capacity of 12,667 pupil places. (excluding School Sixth Form places of 796 which there were 573 recorded on roll) reported in SCAP 2021. Overall, in January we had a boroughwide surplus of 11%. Table 7 shows the number of children in each year group as at the January 2021 census:

Table 7. Secondary pupil numbers January 2021

Year 72315
Year 82385
Year 92262
Year 102186
Year 112123
Year 12318
Year 13255


There is a continuing trend of more pupil numbers entering Y7 than there are leaving Y11. In Table 7 it represents a 9% increase in the number of pupils entering secondary between Sept 2016 (Y11) and Sept 2020 (Y7). This steady increase was a result of a higher primary pupil population in Table 6 that move into secondary and will continue over the next 7 years. This increasing demand and the projected cohorts led to the Council having discussions with all schools and academies with a view to increasing the capacity of secondary school places.

The total Y7 capacity for entry in September 2020 across all secondary schools was 2497 places providing the Council with a surplus of 7.3%. However, the actual number of surplus places was a little higher due to additional places provided by some academies admitting pupils above their admission number to meet parental demand.

Strategy for school investment in Stockton-on-Tees

The key aims of the Strategy for Stockton are:

  • provide sufficient school places across the Borough and have between 5-10% surplus places to:
    • provide every primary pupil a place within 2 miles
    • provide every secondary pupil a school place within 3 miles
  • ensure that schools are maintained in a good condition, with maintenance work undertaken
  • identify opportunities to improve the school stock