A FURTHER education college is pulling out of Southend.

Procat will move out of its £20million campus, in Southchurch Boulevard, in June.

Southend Council will take over the building, which will make way for new secondary school places as part of an expansion of Futures Community College.

A baby boom means the council needs to find 300 extra place by 2021.

The authority has set aside £3million for the conversion of the Procat site and the vacant former Cecil Jones lower school, in Wentworth Road.

A further £8million for additional secondary school places is available in the council’s draft 2016/17 budget, as well as an expected £10million of Government funding.

Neil Bates, principal and chief executive of Procat, first warned the Southend campus may go last summer, after Futures Community College, also based on the Southchurch Boulevard site, closed its sixth form.

Procat, which specialises in construction and engineering, will now focus on its other sites in Luckyn Lane, Basildon, and Meppel Avenue, Canvey.

Mr Bates said: “Because we have to provide specialist equipment and resources we want to concentrate them in fewer locations.

“We have decided to do that at our Basildon and Canvey sites and we have reached an agreement with the local authority that will mean that youngsters in Southend will benefit from the fantastic building that we will leave behind.

“I think it is a great step forward for Futures.”

Procat will leave the site in June.

It is not known when Futures will move in, as internal restructuring work is required.

Southend Council has not yet revealed whether the former Cecil Jones building will be developed as another campus for an existing school, or become a brand new stand-along secondary.


Anne Jones, Southend councillor for children and learning, outside Futures

THE councillor responsible for children and learning said she is delighted money has been set aside in next year’s budget for extra secondary school places.

Southend Council cabinet member, Anne Jones, said: “We have worked hard and invested significant sums of money in recent years to improve and expand capacity in our primary schools.

“This money allocated in the proposed capital programme will ensure that we do the same for our secondary schools where we predict Year 7 numbers will rise from September 2017.

“There is a real burden of responsibility to provide these places but it we were to build a new school we would need a site, where there is demand for places, build it using public money, then offer it as a free school, so giving away that investment of public money.

“Whereas if you need to expand a school then the Government give us the money.”


ON average there are now 2,100 babies born in Southend every year.

This is compared to 1,900 just ten years ago.

Southend needs to create 300 extra secondary school places because of the baby boom.

The council has already increased the number of primary school places in the borough, but is now turning its attentions to secondary schools.

Based on a figure of 28 to 30 pupils per class, an extra ten classes are needed throughout the borough.

Each new form of entry costs between £2.5million and £4.5million, meaning a possible total cost of £45million.

The council has decided against the most expensive option, building a new school, and has allocated £18million in its new 2016/17 draft budget to spend on creating the places.

A total of £3million of the cash will be for the redevelopment of the Procat and Cecil Jones sites, with the remaining £15million thought to be allocated for expanding existing schools.