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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Meeting : 14th March 2012

 

Report of the Cabinet Member for Education and Lifelong Learning

 

School Admission Arrangements 2013/14

 

Purpose of the Report

1.             To advise Cabinet of the conclusion of the Council's statutory consultation exercise on school admission arrangements for community Schools in accordance with the Education (Determination of Admission Arrangements) (Wales) Regulations 2006.  The Council is required to review and determine its School Admissions Policy annually.

Recommendations

1.             To approve the Schools Admissions Policy for 2013/2014, attached at Appendix A, so that the requirement to determine the policy by 15 April is met and the admission arrangements may be implemented from September 2013.

2.             To approve a revision to the catchment areas of Cogan and Fairfield Primary Schools as detailed at Appendix C The revision will provide a better distribution of children within the catchment areas of the schools concerned and also accommodate children emanating from the Penarth Heights development.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.             The Council is required to review school admission arrangements annually and to determine the arrangements following appropriate consultation by 15 April 2012.

2.             The revision to catchment areas will provide a better match between the supply and demand for school places at respective schools.

Background

2.             A local Authority has a statutory duty to consult on school admission arrangements annually. The School Admission Arrangements must be determined by 15 April 2012 for implementation in September 2013.

3.             The School Admissions Policy was issued for consultation on the 25 January 2012 to Headteachers and chairs of governors, diocesan directors, neighbouring local education authorities and other interested parties. Responses were required by the 1 March 2012.

4.             The Authority is required to publish a composite document each year for the subsequent school year admission round detailing school admission arrangements for all maintained schools in its area. This information is contained within the Council’s information booklet “Educating Children in The Vale of Glamorgan - A Parental Guide to School Admission in the Vale”.

5.             There were no amendments to the admissions policy from the previous year.

6.             A school catchment area is a geographically defined area of addresses drawn up to ensure that all schools in an area receive a fair share of pupils and in which children are eligible to attend a local school and are used:

·               To give parents an indication of their local school;

·               To help schools identify with the communities they serve;

·               To prioritise admissions to schools when there are more applications than places available.  Residence within catchment area is the second highest priority in admission criteria in the Vale, ensuring that schools are available to serve local children first;

·               As a planning tool to enable the Authority to fulfil its duty to forecast demand for education in an area and to plan to meet that demand.

·               As an element of transport policy in order to facilitate the organisation of school transport and control costs.

7.             A review of catchment areas for English medium schools was considered necessary in the Penarth area to ensure that catchment areas still reflect the needs of the school populations they serve but recognising that parental preference has a direct impact upon the overall situation.

8.             The situation in the Penarth area is such that over the past two years a number of sibling connections and catchment area children have been denied access at the reception intake to either their catchment area school or a school where an elder brother or sister already attends.

9.             Analysis of birth data aligned to schools catchment areas in terms of future reception intakes to Penarth schools does not, in the majority of cases, indicate a regular trend of high intake numbers compared to the number of places available at a school The majority of schools are seeing consistent numbers apart from Cogan Primary which is displaying consistently high birth rates in relation to their reception intake number.  Conversely Fairfield has a very small catchment area where birth related data falls well below the schools intake number.

10.        Admission intakes to schools are greatly influenced by parental preference that allows parents to apply for their preferred school of their choice. It is inevitable that not all children born within a schools catchment area will necessarily apply for their local schools and there will also be an allowance for preference for Welsh medium and Denominational education.

11.        Consideration has been given to the impact of the Penarth Heights development on local schools when considering a review of school catchment areas. The development is anticipated to yield around 105 primary age children.

12.        Meetings have taken place with Vale of Glamorgan Council Ward Members for Penarth and Penarth Cluster Schools to discuss proposals for changes to school catchment areas. The review of catchment areas has also been considered and supported by the Vale of Glamorgan School Admissions Forum.

Relevant Issues and Options

13.        There have been no comments received in response to the consultation exercise in terms of the council’s admissions policy.

14.        The admission arrangements detailed in the attached School Admissions Policy 2012/2013 at Appendix A have been considered by and supported by the Vale of Glamorgan School Admissions Forum.

15.        In terms of school catchment areas they are primarily a tool for managing oversubscription at schools in order to allocate places where there are more applications than places available for children; however they do provide an identity for a school with a local area.

16.        The authority's admission arrangements will manage the admission intake to schools under which catchment area children are ranked as a high priority when allocating places.

17.        A number of options were put forward to realign catchment areas that were considered by the Penarth Member Advisory Group, Penarth Cluster Headteacher groups and also presented to the authority's admission forum.

18.        The general consensus at meetings considered it unnecessary to overhaul school catchment areas in Penarth but the Local Authority should consider the impact of birth rates for Cogan Primary, the small catchment area associated with Fairfield Primary School and the impact of the Penarth Heights residential development.

19.        An option for consideration was to reduce Cogan Primary catchment area and increase Fairfield Primary. As both schools border each other this was the most realistic option to address issues associated with the schools that would also take account of the Penarth Heights development. This preferred option would seek to provide a better balance of future intakes for the schools concerned. The current and revised catchment area maps are attached at Appendix B and C respectively together with pupil related data at Appendix D. In terms of the revised catchment area map the blue border line with hatched area indicates the extension to Fairfield primary and conversely a reduction to Cogan.

20.        The Headteacher of Cogan Primary School expressed concerns at losing part of the school’s catchment. Officers provided reassurance that this would not have a detrimental impact on pupil numbers and that the school would continue to receive sufficient numbers in future. At present the schools current catchment area is too big to meet the needs of its local school population.

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

21.        There are no immediate resource implications.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

22.        Sections 88 and 89 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 and regulation 4 of the Education (Determination of Admission Arrangements) (Wales) Regulations 2006 require Admission Authorities to consult and determine school admission arrangements annually. The regulations set a timescale for the consultation and determination of admission arrangements and this report reflects those requirements.  The Education (Determination of Admission Arrangements) Regulations 1999 make provision for a number of purposes relating to the requirements of Section 89 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998.  In particular these Regulations contain provisions relating to the duty to consult.

Crime and Disorder Implications

23.        There are no immediate implications.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

24.        The Legislation and Regulations provide the basis for decision making and consultation.

Corporate/Service Objectives

25.        The proposal provides a basis for the Council to achieve its corporate objectives for Education and Lifelong Learning and links with the Council's objectives for social well being and tackling disadvantage.

Policy Framework and Budget

26.        This report is a matter for Executive decision by the Cabinet.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

27.        Consultation has taken place with those consultees required as part of the statutory consultation process that includes neighbouring Local Authorities, relevant schools, admission authorities for other schools maintained by the Local Authority and other schools in the relevant area. Consultation has also taken place with Penarth and surrounding Ward Members.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

28.        Lifelong Learning.

Background Papers

None.

 

Contact Officer

Mike Matthews

Principal Officer - 01446 709727

 

Officers Consulted

Paula Ham, Head of Strategic Planning & Performance

Mark Haynes, School Organisation and Access Manager

 

Responsible Officer:

Bryan Jeffreys

Director of Learning and Development

 

 

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