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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Meeting : 15th October 2012

 

Report of the Cabinet Member for Children's Services

 

Update on the implementation of the Schools Investment Programme - Llantwit Major

 

Purpose of the Report

1.         To inform Members of the latest position in respect of the Investment Programme for Schools in Llantwit Major.

Recommendations

1.         That Members note the current position with the investment plans for Ysgol Gymraeg Dewi Sant and Llantwit Major Comprehensive School.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.         To ensure Members are aware of progress with implementing the Schools Investment Programme.

Background

2.         The 21st Century Schools Programme was formally launched by the Welsh Government in March 2010 to support large-scale capital building projects across Wales with the aim of enhancing school buildings to meet 21st Century educational needs. 

3.         In line with Welsh Government requirements the Vale's 21st Century Schools Strategic Outline Programme (the original SOP) was submitted to the Welsh Government in December 2010 and at the time the Welsh Government was providing a 70% grant support intervention rate towards local authority school investment projects.  However, as reported to the Cabinet Meeting of 19th October 2011 (Cabinet Minute C1470 refers) in July 2011 the Minister For Education and Skills outlined in a written statement that Welsh Government contributions would be reduced to 50% and as a result local authorities across Wales were invited to review and prepare revised forward outlook programmes for school capital investments. 

4.         At the Cabinet meeting of 16th November 2011 (Cabinet Minute C1523 refers) a revised forward outlook programme for the Vale called the Revised Band A programme of projects was reported and approved for submission to the Welsh Government based on the lower 50% grant support from the Welsh Government. 

5.         The submission of the Revised Band A programme of projects (Appendix A) was successful and in December 2011 a Conditional Offer was received from the Welsh Government (subject to the approval of business cases for each scheme and statutory approvals where applicable) for £10.48 Million of Welsh Government grant support towards the total cost of £20.96 Million, which will transform and enhance various schools in Llantwit Major and Barry.

6.         On 22 May 2012 officers met with the Welsh Government to discuss the next steps in progressing the revised Band A Projects within the 21st Century Schools Programme. Welsh Government officers confirmed that capital funding could be available prior to the original start date of April 2014, if this would be beneficial to Local Authorities. The availability of Welsh Government funding would be subject to prior approval of business cases for projects over £5m and business justification cases for projects under £5m.

Relevant Issues and Options

7.         Following the meeting with the Welsh Government an assessment of the four projects within Band A has been carried out, for the reasons outlined below it was considered to be beneficial to the Vale to initially bring the next phase at Ysgol Dewi Sant forward. At the Cabinet meeting on 9th July 2012 (Cabinet Minute C1754 refers) it was agreed that a business justification case (BJC) should be submitted to the Welsh Government to draw down grant funding to complete the next phase during 2013/14. The BJC will be submitted in early October 2012 and it is anticipated that the Welsh Government will assess the application before the end of December 2012.  

8.         Ysgol Dewi Sant opened in September 2011 with a nursery and reception classroom along with a hall and ancillary administration and support rooms. The current capacity of the school, 30 in the reception classroom, will be unable to accommodate the 32 pupils in reception, year 1 and 2 forecast to attend the school in September 2013 rising to a minimum of 43 pupils in 2014.

9.         Prior to opening, Ysgol Dewi Sant pupil numbers were difficult to predict with accuracy as this is the first Welsh medium primary school in Llantwit Major and parental demand was therefore not proven. The Authority therefore assumed a conservative level of parental demand. However parental demand for Welsh Medium in the Llantwit Major area is increasing more rapidly than the initial estimates and the next phase of development is required earlier than originally planned to accommodate these additional children. This scheme is considered the most pressing of the revised Band A projects due to the rapid increase in Welsh Medium reception class applications which cannot be accommodated from 2013 onwards within the existing building.

10.      A feasibility study will be carried out over the coming months on the Llantwit Major Comprehensive School scheme. This will focus on whether it is possible to deliver the scheme in one phase instead of the two phased approach currently shown in the plan and will also investigate the possibility of bringing aspects of the scheme forward. A report will be brought to the Scrutiny (Corporate Resources) Committee detailing the results of this feasibility study and confirming if implementation of  the scheme can be accelerated.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

11.      Any proposed changes to the profiling of investment over the period of the SIP will need to be considered within the overall context of the Council's Capital Programme.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

12.      The Welsh Government requires sustainability and climate change issues to be addressed in the business case submission for grant funding.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

13.      There are no legal implications from this matter.

Crime and Disorder Implications

14.      There are no crime and disorder implications.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

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

Corporate/Service Objectives

16.      The School Investment Programme is a Corporate Priority and improving the learning environment is a key priority within Education 2015.

Policy Framework and Budget

17.      The School Investment Programme is a matter for Executive Decision.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

18.      Members are supportive of the proposals to accelerate the School Investment Programme where feasible.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

19.      Corporate Resources

Background Papers

21st Century Schools Strategic Outline Programme - December 2010;

Vale of Glamorgan Revised Band A programme of projects - November 2011; Vale of Glamorgan School Investment Programme - April 2012

 

Contact Officer

Paula Ham, Head of Strategic Planning and Performance

 

Officers Consulted

Sian Davies, Managing Director

Jane Wade, OM Property

Mark Haynes, School Organisation and Access Manager

 

Responsible Officer:

Jennifer Hill, Chief Learning and Skills Officer