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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Meeting: 23 September, 2013

 

Report of the Cabinet Member for Children's Services

 

School Reorganisation Proposals for Welsh Medium Primary School Places in Barry: Ysgol Gwaun y Nant and Oakfield Primary School

 

Purpose of the Report

1.         To gain Cabinet’s support for proposals to expand Ysgol Gwaun y Nant in order to provide sufficient Welsh medium primary school places in Barry.

Recommendations

1.         That Cabinet agrees the preferred option to expand Ysgol Gwaun y Nant from one to two form entry and to provide a new building for Oakfield Primary school on the current site.

2.         That Cabinet approves consultation on the expansion of Ysgol Gwaun y Nant from a one to two form entry school.

3.         That Cabinet refers this report to the Lifelong Learning Scrutiny Committee for consideration.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1&2     To enable the expansion of Welsh Medium education to meet increasing parental     demand.

3.         That Lifelong Learning Scrutiny Committee is aware of progress with school re-        organisation.

Background

2.         Welsh Medium primary education is currently provided at four schools in Barry: Ysgol St Curig, Ysgol St Baruc, Ysgol Nant Talwg and Ysgol Gwaun y Nant.

3.         As previously reported to Cabinet and as shown in Appendix A, parental demand for Welsh medium education in Barry continues to increase. There were 150 applications for September 2013 for the 150 reception places available. There are currently 158 children in nursery classes who it is anticipated will require a reception place in 2014, resulting in a shortfall of eight places.  This figure may increase before September 2014.

4.         This growth in demand is expected to continue for the foreseeable future. The Local Authority has a legal duty to meet parental demand for Welsh Medium education.

Relevant Issues and Options

5.         A feasibility study has been carried out which considered a range of options including the expansion of existing Welsh medium schools in Barry and the construction of a new school to meet this increasing demand.

6.         The possible expansion of existing Welsh medium schools was investigated but is not possible due to the small sites occupied by three of the schools. There is, however, an area of approximately 7,000m2 of currently unused land to the rear of Ysgol Gwaun y Nant that is under the remit of Learning and Skills that could be incorporated into the school site to provide additional site area and playing fields meeting the needs of an expanded school.

7.         A 1/2 form entry extension was considered but this would only increase capacity in each year group by 15 places which will not be sufficient to meet the increase in demand for Welsh medium education in the medium term.

8.         A one form entry extension to Ysgol Gwaun y Nant and remodelling of the existing school was considered. However the kitchen, dining and hall facilities are all located centrally between Ysgol Gwaun y Nant and Oakfield Primary and will require expansion to meet the increased pupil numbers. The feasibility study demonstrates that this will prove problematic in the current location and will require new facilities to be built duplicating provision within the schools. In addition, an extension to the existing building would either necessitate another linking corridor which will result in the poor flow of pupils through the school or the construction of a separate block which would result in pupil safety issues when moving between the two blocks. The long term aim of this project must be to provide a school that optimises teaching and learning, the feasibility work undertaken to date does not demonstrate that this would be achieved if the school was extended.

9.         Ysgol Gwaun y Nant and Oakfield Primary school both currently occupy separate parts of a former two form entry (420 place) primary school. The most favourable option was determined to be the construction of a new one form entry (210 place) building to accommodate Oakfield Primary on the existing site and the remodelling of the building currently occupied by Ysgol Gwaun y Nant and Oakfield Primary to enlarge Ysgol Gwaun y Nant to accommodate 420 children plus an enlarged nursery.

10.      It should also be noted that an extension to Ysgol Gwaun y Nant would not result in any improvements to the children's learning areas at Oakfield Primary school.

11.      The preferred option would significantly improve the teaching and learning environments for both schools by addressing the poor internal layout and provide two schools that meet the educational needs of the 21st Century.

12.      If approved, it is anticipated that building work could start on the new Oakfield Primary school building in November 2014 for completion by September 2015. Once the new building is complete remodelling work could be carried out in the existing school building to increase capacity for Ysgol Gwaun y Nant.

13.      As previously mentioned, additional places will be required for Welsh Medium reception aged children in 2014. If the preferred option is progressed, surplus capacity in Oakfield Primary could be utilised to accommodate the additional children prior to the expansion of Ysgol Gwaun y Nant. Otherwise it may be necessary to hire a demountable classroom to accommodate the additional children at significantly higher cost.

14.      In order to increase the capacity of Ysgol Gwaun y Nant from 210 to 420 places the Council will need to comply with the statutory process detailed in the School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Act 2013 and outlined below.

15.      A consultation document must be provided to all interested parties allowing a minimum of six weeks to respond, the consultation period must include a minimum of 20 school days. Meetings would be held during the consultation period to provide additional information as requested.

16.      Within three months of the closing date for the consultation period a consultation report would be published including a summary of comments received and the Council's response to these comments.

17.      The Council must then decide whether or not to proceed with the proposal within six months of the end of the consultation period.

18.      If following the consultation process the Council decides that the expansion of Ysgol Gwaun y Nant is to be progressed a statutory notice is published providing 28 days for objections. The notice must be published on a school day and with 15 school days included within the notice period.

19.      If objections are received, an objection report must be published with a summary of the objections and the Council's response within 28 days of the end of the objection period. Under the new legislation coming into force on the 1 October 2013 as the proposal does not relate to 6th form education the Local Authority can determine the proposal if objections are received.

20.      Appendix B sets out the anticipated timescale for this process if approved by Cabinet.

21.      Oakfield Primary can be re-located to a new building on the same site without the need to undertake the above process. The decision to do this is however conditional on the statutory process for Ysgol Gwaun y Nant outlined above.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

22.      The estimated cost to extend Ysgol Gwaun y Nant and the associated remodelling is estimated to be £4,072,500. This is not the preferred option.

23.      The preferred option, to build a new pattern book design school for Oakfield Primary and remodel the existing school to increase capacity to 420 places for Ysgol Gwaun Y Nant is estimated to be a lower cost solution at £3,645,000 which can be met from the existing funding available within the Capital Programme.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

24.      New build elements of the scheme will meet BREEAM excellent rating significantly reducing the running costs and carbon emissions arising from the building.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

25.      Powers for Councils to develop school organisation proposals currently derive from the School Standards and Framework Act 1998. This legislation will be replaced by the School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Act 2013 which will be enacted on 1 October 2013.

26.      If approved, the statutory notice to expand Ysgol Gwaun y Nant will comply with the requirements of The Schools Standards and Organisation (Wales) Act 2013 and the School Organisation Code, Statutory Code Document no. 006/2013.

Crime and Disorder Implications

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

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

28.      The expansion of Welsh medium education will meet parental demand for Welsh Medium education in Barry. The new building for Oakfield Primary school will provide excellent educational facilities for children living in a neighbourhood that experiences higher levels of socio-economic deprivation.

Corporate/Service Objectives

29.      The expansion of Ysgol Gwaun y Nant and new building for Oakfield Primary progresses LS2 to 'Develop, consult on and implement a School Reorganisation Programme to ensure the right schools are provided in the right places.' included within the Corporate Plan 2013-17.

30.      The schemes detailed in this report contribute towards service outcome 3, objective 9 'Learners have access to an appropriate range of quality provision' of the Learning and Skills Directorate Service Plan 2013/17.

Policy Framework and Budget

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

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

32.      Ward Member consultation has taken place to which no adverse comments have been received to date.

33.      Public consultation with all interested parties in accordance with legislation will be carried out regarding the expansion of Ysgol Gwaun Y Nant.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

34.      Corporate Resources

Background Papers

None

 

Contact Officers:

Paula Ham - Head of Strategic Planning and Performance

Mark Haynes - School Organisation and Buildings Manager

 

Officers Consulted

Jane Wade – Operational Manager, Property

 

Responsible Officer:

Jennifer Hill – Chief Learning and Skills Officer

 

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