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Matter which the Chairman has decided is urgent by reason of the late clarification of the programme criteria by the Welsh Government and the short timescale to submit the revised Strategic Outline Programme to the Welsh Government

 

Agenda Item No 27(i)

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Meeting : 16 November 2011

 

Report of the Cabinet Member for Education and Lifelong Learning

 

21st Century Schools - Revised Strategic Outline Programme

 

Purpose of the Report

1.             To request Cabinet approval of the Band A programme of projects within the revised Vale of Glamorgan Strategic Outline Programme to be submitted to the Welsh Government on 18 November 2011 under the 21st Century Schools Programme.

Recommendations

1.             That Cabinet approves the Band A programme of projects revised in accordance with Welsh Government guidelines.

2.             That the Urgency Procedure is used to enable a revised Strategic Outline Programme, Band A programme of projects to be submitted by the due date.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1. and 2.         To allow the programme of projects to be submitted to the Welsh Government on the 18 November 2011 in accordance with the required timescale.

Background

2.             The 21st Century Schools Programme was formally launched in March 2010 and the Vale's 21st Century Schools Strategic Outline Programme (SOP) was submitted in December 2010 in line with Welsh Government requirements.

3.             The Council is anticipating to draw down up to £33,360,650 of Welsh Government grant funding for the Penarth Learning Community under Tranche 3 (T3) of the 21st Century Schools transitional grant funding.  It was originally intended that from 2012 and continuing for 15 years or more, funding would be provided in three year bands for major elements of long-term programmes to be agreed between each local authority and the Welsh Government. The Vale's forward outlook programme of capital investment is shown in Appendix A. Cabinet will note that under the original timescale Band A of the programme overlaps with T3 funding, Penarth Learning Community is shown in Band A with other priorities such as Llantwit Learning Community, Welsh Medium , Barry Cluster of schools etc. being shown in subsequent funding bands.  The forward outlook programme of capital investment shown in the SOP is indicative and was based on the assumption that Local Authority funding contributions would be 30% as for the T3 schemes.

4.             The minister for Education and Skills outlined in his written statement on the 13th July 2011 that an intervention rate of 50% of capital grant support from the Welsh Government would be applied to the 21st Century Schools Programme and there would be a need to re-prioritise capital investment programmes.

5.             Further to this announcement it was agreed that local authorities would be provided with an opportunity to review the forward outline programme of projects provided in their Strategic Outline Programmes.  

Relevant Issues and Options

6.             The Welsh Government issued guidance on the review of forward outline programmes on Friday 14 October 2011 (Appendix B). Local Authorities must return the revised submission no later than noon Friday 18 November 2011. Local Authorities are not required to review and re-submit their entire SOP. This submission is an opportunity for authorities to revisit the sequencing of their programmes. 

7.             The delivery of those programmes/projects identified by Local Authorities in Band A will continue to be a priority however it should be noted that whereas Band A was to be a 3 year band from 2012/13 to 2014/15 it has now been extended to 6 years and will run from 2014/15 to 2019/20. The guidance provided in October did not state that the start of Band A would be delayed by two years, this was only clarified in a meeting with the Welsh Government on the afternoon of Friday 11 November. New bands of investment on a 3 year basis will then be announced over forthcoming years. Local Authorities are being asked to review programmes/projects in Band A on an affordability basis (i.e. the provision of 50%) and the prioritisation criteria (i.e. programmes/projects that are tackling estate inefficiencies such as poor condition, surplus capacity and running inefficiencies).

8.             To enable Local Authorities to tackle the parts of the school estate that may be regarded as the most inefficient (e.g. a school identified with a condition category D) it is permissible to bring forward projects that were allocated in terms of delivery into Bands B, C, and D in the initial SOP. As Penarth Learning Community is the Vale's only Band A project and has already received T3 grant funding, further grant funding cannot be accessed until 2020/21 at the earliest unless projects are brought forward. Officers have investigated options in relation to Llantwit Learning Community, including a review of the scope of the project as well as phasing the project. Consideration also needs to be given to advancing any projects which would enable rationalisation.

9.             Cabinet should note that there is currently no capacity within the DfES baseline budget to provide direct capital grant support to each local authority for capital maintenance works in 2011/12 or for the 2 subsequent financial years (2012-13 and 2013-14).

10.        The proposed timetable from the Welsh Government for developing the Council's response is extremely challenging hence the request for Cabinet to approve the revised submission two days prior to delivery to the Welsh Government.

11.        In order to ensure that Cabinet have an opportunity to consider the proposals, whilst meeting the Welsh Government deadline it will be necessary to use the Urgency Procedure following the Cabinet meeting on 16 November. 

12.        The 21st Century Schools project team has considered a range of projects meeting the recently received guidance having full consideration for the profiling of potential capital funding.

13.        Llantwit Learning Community was included within the previously approved SOP in Band B. The scheme included reconstruction and remodelling of the Comprehensive school, a new 420 place English Medium Primary School to replace Llanilltud Fawr and Eagleswell Primary Schools, a 210 place Welsh Medium Primary School to replace Ysgol Dewi Sant Seed School as well as new leisure and library facilities all on the same site. A recent structural inspection of Llanilltud Fawr Primary school has confirmed that the aluminium frame and fixings were still in good condition and although the building has a limited design life remaining is still currently in reasonable condition and not requiring urgent renewal. Ysgol Dewi Sant occupies a modular building which has a design life in excess of 25 years. Llantwit Major Comprehensive occupies a range of deteriorating permanent buildings which need substantial investment and is still recognised as a high priority. In view of the very poor condition of the comprehensive school and the revised capital funding available under the 21st Century schools programme a number of options to address the problems at the Comprehensive school are being put forward for consideration by Cabinet:

14.        Option A - Do the minimum level of maintenance required to existing buildings to allow continued use by the school. This will include renewal of life expired electrical wiring and heating and hot water boilers along with renewal of flat roof coverings and re-cladding E Block. This will only address the existing condition related issues with the buildings and will not remedy suitability or sufficiency deficiencies. The estimated cost of this option over the next five years is in the region of £1.5M at current costs. This expenditure is not eligible for additional Welsh Government funding under the 21st Century Schools Programme.

15.        Option B - Remodel the four existing permanent buildings on the site to meet current standards. This would include installing pitched roofs to replace existing flat roofs, re-cladding the buildings, addressing all condition and suitability issues on the site, investigate the feasibility of installing renewable energy technology into the buildings, providing full disabled access around the site and within buildings, resolving the existing bus drop off and parking problems on the site and installation of an all weather sports pitch. This work could be split between two phases, estimated to cost in the region of £6.73M and £5.75M. This work would be eligible for a 50% contribution from the Welsh Government 21st Century Schools Programme.

16.        Option C - Demolish Blocks D and E and build a new link extension to connect the Main block with B Block, remodel the main block and B Block as above and carry out site improvements. This scheme would cost in the region of £18M at current costs and would be eligible for 50% funding from the Welsh Government. However the Vale's contribution of £9M has not been identified within currently identified funding commitments for the period covering Band A (to 2019/20) and is unlikely to be available in the foreseeable future. The buildings would require substantial urgent investment, as option A, to ensure that they can continue to be used by the school until funding becomes available.

17.        Option D - Original proposal as outlined in the previously submitted SOP. Demolish all buildings on the site except the main block, build an extension onto the main block to replace existing accommodation, remodel the main block and address all the site wide deficiencies. The estimated cost of this scheme would be in the region of £35M (excluding rebuilding of primary schools previously included in the Band B project and including an uplift for inflation). This scheme would be eligible for 50% Welsh Government grant funding but the increased LA contribution from 30% to 50% coupled with greatly reduced levels of capital funding available to the LA has resulted in very little prospect of the required funding being available.

18.        The preferred option for Llantwit Major Comprehensive is option B which will address all the identified problems at the school within a reasonable timeframe at an affordable cost.

19.        School Reorganisation within the Barry Cluster was identified within Band C of the original SOP. Following work with the Barry Cluster Member Advisory Group, addressing surplus capacity and the increasing demand for welsh medium education were both highlighted as high priorities. To address the existing high levels of surplus capacity in the primary sector (approximately 960 places) the proposal is to remodel two primary schools to enable reorganisation of schools in the area and release capacity to accommodate the continuing increase in demand for Welsh Medium Primary places. In addition to Cabinet approval this proposal is entirely dependant upon Welsh Government capital funding and therefore the timescale cannot be guaranteed. The statutory process to re-organise the schools cannot commence until funding is formally approved. The estimated cost of this proposal is £4.258M which would be eligible for 50% capital funding from the Welsh Government.

20.        Ysgol Nant Talwg (Barry) and Ysgol Dewi Sant (Llantwit Major) opened to reception and nursery children in September 2011 and will grow incrementally as the existing reception class progress through the school. These schools are projected to meet existing demand but not further increases in demand which are expected. The schools have been built using modular building techniques to reduce the build programme and also reduce disruption to the adjoining schools whilst the construction works are undertaken. Funding will be required to expand the schools as the pupils progress through the year groups. The proposal is to apply for a 50% contribution under the 21st Century Schools programme to carry out the required expansion works which fall within the Band A timeframe. A total of £4,225,000 would be eligible for Band A funding. However the next phase of construction at Ysgol Dewi Sant will need to be carried out in 2013/14 as will the design work for the expansion of Ysgol Nant Talwg, a year before the start of the Band A funding. An estimated expenditure of £725,000 in 2013/14 would not be eligible for 21st Century Schools grant funding.

21.        The preferred proposals are included within the Vale of Glamorgan Band A project Programme - November 2011 attached to this report.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment and Climate Change if appropriate)

22.        The submission of the forward outlook programme of capital investment does not in of itself commit the Council to any financial outlay. Local Authorities will be invited to submit outline business cases for schemes selected by the Welsh Government which must be approved prior to any funding commitment being entered into.

23.        Subject to no significant reductions in general Capital Funding from Welsh Government the Council will have the necessary resources to fund its 50% contribution for the schemes included in the revised Band A submission.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

24.        There are no legal implications arising from this matter

Crime and Disorder Implications

25.        There are no crime and disorder implications arising from this matter

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

26.        There are no equal opportunities implications arising from this matter.

Corporate/Service Objectives

27.        The School Investment Programme is a corporate priority and improving the learning environment is a key priority within Education 2015.

Policy Framework and Budget

28.        The 21st Century Schools Strategic Outline Programme is a matter for Executive decision.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

29.        Consultation has been undertaken with the leaders of all four political groups.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

30.        Lifelong Learning.

Background Papers

21st Century Schools Strategic Outline Programme - December 2010

21st Century Schools Submission of Programme of Projects

Vale of Glamorgan Band A project programme - November 2011

Contact Officers

Paula Ham, Head of Strategic Planning and Performance

Mark Haynes, School Organisation and Access Manager

Officers Consulted

Sian Davies, Director of Finance, ICT and Property

Jane Wade, Operational Manager Property Section

 

Responsible Officer:

Bryan Jeffreys

Director of Learning and Development

 

 

 

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