Agenda Item No. 4
THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL
LEARNING AND CULTURE SCRUTINY COMMITTEE: 23 JANUARY 2017
REFERENCE FROM CABINET: 31 OCTOBER 2016
C3348 Proposal to Change the Character of Fairfield Primary School to a 3 - 11 Years School, by Creating a Nursery Unit Within the School (RE) (SCRUTINY COMMITTEE - LEARNING AND CULTURE) –
Approval was sought to consult stakeholders on a proposal to open a nursery unit at Fairfield Primary School from January 2018.
The Council had a duty to review the number and type of schools in the area and to make the best use of resources to raise standards in schools.
Fairfield Primary School was last inspected by Estyn in November 2010. The school's current performance and prospects for improvement were both judged as good. In November 2015 during a monitoring visit of the Council, Estyn identified Fairfield Primary School as one in which the Council should have taken a more direct approach to challenging performance.
Cabinet requested that the Lifelong Learning Scrutiny Committee hold an individual school progress panel at Fairfield Primary School. A panel meeting was held with the school on 22 June, 2016. At the panel meeting, the Headteacher highlighted that Fairfield Primary School did not have its own nursery class and that children transferred from a number of different nurseries into the reception class of the school. This meant that the school was not always fully aware of the numbers due to come into the reception class and pupil transition was a challenge. A number of children came into reception from other areas and in some instances the level of social skills was very low. The starting point for children varied with children possessing different degrees of social skills and mobility.
Significant progress had been made by the school. A recent report of the Joint Education Service stated that pupils made good progress at Fairfield. Outcomes in the Foundation Phase were generally strong, although performance in language, literacy and communication was less so. There was no doubt that the school’s leaders were in a strong position to be able to introduce a nursery provision in the school and ensure it provided a high quality learning experience for all children. The school’s track record of raising achievement of most pupils would undoubtedly be enhanced. A consistent approach to teaching and planning pupils’ learning for continuity and progression, would certainly contribute to raising standards across the school.
The Welsh Government issued a School Organisation Code in 2013 that came into effect from 1 October, 2013. The local authority had to “act in accordance with the Code” as determined by the School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Act 2013.
Section 48 of the 2013 Act required that before school organisation proposals were published they had to first be subject to consultation. A consultation document had to be published and provided to prescribed consultees and Welsh Ministers.
The consultation document had to be provided to all interested parties allowing a minimum of six weeks to respond, the consultation period had to include a minimum of 20 school days. Meetings would be held during the consultation period to provide additional information as requested and would include meetings with parents, pupil representatives, governing bodies and staff of the school and playgroup. Appendix A as attached to the report set out the anticipated timescale for this process if approved by Cabinet.
At the meeting, the Interim Director of Learning and Skills noted that the number of children at suitable nursery age in Penarth was increasing, therefore there was a sustainable and growing demand for Nursery spaces in the area.
This was a matter for Executive decision
Cabinet, having considered the report and all the issues and implications contained therein
(1) T H A T consultation from 3 January, 2017 for a period of six weeks on a proposal to create a 48 part time place nursery class at Fairfield Primary School be authorised.
(2) T H A T the report be referred to the Scrutiny Committee Learning and Culture as part of the consultation to be undertaken on the proposal in the New Year.
Reasons for decisions
(1) To enable the Council to consult on the proposal to create a new 48 part time place nursery unit at the school and extend the age range of the school to a 3 to 11 age primary school from January 2018.
(2) To ensure that the Scrutiny Committee Learning and Culture is aware of progress with school reorganisation and is consulted on proposals in due course and at the appropriate time.
Attached as Appendix – Report to Cabinet – 31 OCTOBER 2016