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Agenda Item No. 6

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Learning and Culture Scrutiny Committee: 13 February 2017

 

Report of the Interim Director of Learning and Skills

 

School Place Planning in the Vale of Glamorgan

 

Purpose of the Report

  1. To provide an annual update to members on the progress made by the Vale of Glamorgan Council with regard to reducing surplus school places.

Recommendation

  1. Members consider the Council's performance on school place planning and the progress made to reduce the number of surplus places since 2012.

Reason for the Recommendation

  1. Members are aware of the measures taken to manage school places across the Vale of Glamorgan and of current performance against set targets.

Background

  1. Following the publication of an Estyn report on surplus places in schools in Wales in May 2012, the Minister for Education and Skills contacted Cabinet Members for Education to point out that there was a higher than necessary level of school places across Wales, resulting in a drain on resources which could be better used to improve the quality of education for all learners.
  2. A target was established for the Vale of Glamorgan to reduce surplus places to 12.9% in the secondary sector and 10.19% for the primary sector. The Minister stated he would consider using the powers available to him under Schedule 7 to the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 should insufficient progress be made against agreed targets. A statement was provided by the Council in 2012 and subsequently approved by the Minister, projecting a reduction of surplus places in the primary sector from 16.4% to 10.19% in September 2016 and an increase from 4.76% to 12.86% in the secondary sector by September 2016. The statement also set out the position in terms of schools with a significant number of surplus places (over 25%), increasing demand for Welsh medium school places and plans to reduce surplus capacity in some areas through school reorganisation.
  3. In 2014 progress was reviewed by the Minister and progress in a number of areas was acknowledged, including innovative development and construction initiatives, school amalgamations, and proposals to meet demand for Welsh medium education in the primary sector
  4. This paper serves to review progress over the past year and demonstrate ongoing commitment and progress with the overall reduction of surplus places in line with established targets.

Relevant Issues and Options

  1. Appendix A of this report shows the percentage surplus capacity / oversubscription for all Vale schools as at the January 2016 Pupil Level Annual School Census (PLASC).
  2. Projections as of January 2015 were revised for January 2016, demonstrating a greater than expected increase in surplus capacity for the secondary sector, and an overall reduction in surplus capacity for the primary sector, in excess of the agreed target.
  3. As at PLASC January 2016, secondary schools saw an increase in surplus places to 17.38% from 16.06% in January 2015. This increase correlates with the projections presented to the Scrutiny Committee during the last school place planning update in February 2016.
  4. Four secondary schools: Barry Comprehensive, Llantwit Comprehensive, Ysgol Bro Morgannwg and Bryn Hafren Comprehensive continue to have in excess of 25% surplus capacity as at PLASC January 2016. A number of large-scale initiatives outlined below are making significant progress in addressing this, with the anticipated outcomes being reflected in the January 2018 PLASC and subsequent years.
  5. Barry Comprehensive and Bryn Hafren Comprehensive schools have seen an increase in the number of parents of pupils in the feeder primary schools applying to other schools at the Year 6 transfer stage. The Council has recently published a statutory notice on a proposal to establish two new mixed sex secondary schools in response to the community's desire for mixed sex secondary education, and the need to invest in the learning environments of both school buildings to bring them up to 21st Century standards. If approved, the proposal will result in the capacity of the new schools being reduced to 1,100, down from 1,423 (Barry Comprehensive) and 1,331 (Bryn Hafren Comprehensive). The determination of the consultation will be made in March 2017.
  6. The secondary phase at Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Morgannwg is showing a surplus capacity of 27.45%, however this number will reduce significantly from September 2018 when year 6 pupils from Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Morgannwg's primary phase (formally Ysgol Nant Talwg), as well as from Ysgol Dewi Sant feed into the secondary sector As was the case with the seed school model used to establish Ysgol Dewi Sant and Nant Talwg, the expansion of Ysgol Gwaun y Nant in Barry will see the gradual phasing in of new year groups. This means that it will be several years before these additional pupils start to feed into the secondary sector. Surplus capacity at Llantwit Comprehensive School will be reduced as a result of the school's redevelopment. The new school building is scheduled to open in September February 2017 with the reduction in capacity and surplus places being reflected in the January 2018 PLASC.
  7. From 2018 onwards, secondary school pupil numbers are expected to increase as existing larger primary feeder cohorts enter the secondary system together with pupils emanating from ongoing housing development at Barry Waterfront, Rhoose and Wenvoe.
  8. As of January 2016, surplus places across primary schools have continued to fall, to an average of 8.18%, compared to 10.08% in January 2015, continuing to exceed the agreed target of 10.19%. Projections for 2017 indicate that this trend will continue with surplus places continuing to be less than the Welsh Government guideline level of a maximum of 10% in each sector.
  9. In 2015, three primary schools; Holton, Oakfield and Ysgol Gymraeg Dewi Sant, were reported as being in excess of 25% capacity. As at PLASC 2016, Oakfield and Ysgol Gymraeg Dewi Sant continue to be in excess of 25% surplus capacity. Holton has reduced its surplus capacity by 10%, down to 15.71%, following a review of the school's use of accommodation. The number of schools in this category continue to fall year-on-year.
  10. Projections suggest that Oakfield Primary School will see a reduction in surplus places to approximately 18% by September 2019. Ysgol Gymraeg Dewi Sant will see a reduction to approximately 16% by September 2019. Ysgol Dewi Sant opened as a seed school in September 2011 with a reception class only and is expanding incrementally over seven years as year groups work their way through the school. The school will be operating to a full age range of a reception class to Year 6 in September 2017.
  11. Progress has continued over the last year on the management of school places. Actions required are not prescriptive and are largely focussed on a number of areas including:
  • Keeping provision under review and ensuring a good balance of supply and demand in the future;
  • Continue with prudent and effective strategic planning;
  • Ensure robust administration of admissions which together with the changes that have been made should help to ensure a balance of supply and demand;
  • Any proposals for change, including school organisation proposals, should contribute to the provision of sustainable schools which deliver the best possible educational experiences for children and young people.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

  1. Although there are no resource implications arising directly from this report it should be noted that the reduction of surplus capacity in schools enables school funding to be more usefully directed towards teaching and learning and represents more effective use of available resources.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

  1. The reduction of surplus places and operational efficiencies resulting from school reorganisation and investment in school buildings has improved the sustainability of a number of schools.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

  1. There are no legal implications directly arising from this report.

Crime and Disorder Implications

  1. There are no direct crime and disorder implications as a result of this report.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

  1. A key driver of all school reorganisation proposals is to improve educational outcomes for children and young people in all phases and helping to narrow the inequalities in achievement between advantaged and disadvantaged groups and individuals. The release of funding through school reorganisation enables better targeting of available resources to achieve these aims.

Corporate/Service Objectives

  1. The effective management of school places contributes to Well-being outcome 3: An Aspirational and Culturally Vibrant Vale, Objective 5: Raising overall standards of achievement, included within the Corporate Plan 2017-2020.

Policy Framework and Budget

  1. The recommendations in this report are within existing policy framework and budget.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

  1. Not applicable.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

  1. Learning and Culture

Background Papers

None

Contact Officer:

Trevor Baker, Operational Manager, Strategy and Resources

Officers Consulted

Lisa Lewis, School Access Manager

Mike Matthews, Principal School Planning Officer

Responsible Officer:

Paula Ham, Interim Director of Learning and Skills

 

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