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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Meeting: 2 December 2013

 

Report of the Cabinet Member for Children's Services

 

School Admission Arrangements 2015/2016

 

Purpose of the Report

1.         To seek Cabinet approval to consult on changes to the Council’s school admission arrangements for community schools, as required by the Welsh Government’s School Admission Code issued in July 2013, and a proposed revision to the school catchment areas of Barry Island, Colcot, High Street, Palmerston, Ysgol St Curig and Ysgol Dewi Sant Primary Schools.

Recommendations

1.         To approve consultation on changes required to local authority admission arrangements to ensure compliance with the Welsh Government's School Admissions Code 2013.

2.         To approve consultation on a proposed revision to the school catchment areas of Barry Island, Colcot, High Street, Oakfield, Palmerston, Ysgol St Curig and Ysgol Dewi Sant Primary Schools.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.         The Council is required to review school admission arrangements annually for community schools and determine the arrangements for admission in September 2015 by 15th April 2014 following appropriate consultation.  Consultation on admission arrangements will take place between the 10th January and 1st March 2014.

2.         The council is required to keep school catchment areas under review.

Background

2.         The Local Authority is the admission authority for maintained community schools in the Vale of Glamorgan.

3.         A local authority has a statutory duty to consult on school admission arrangements annually for community schools.  The admission arrangements must be determined by 15th April 2014 for admission to school in September 2015.

4.         The LA has a statutory duty to consult with the governing body of the relevant schools; all neighbouring LAs; the admission authorities for all other maintained schools in the relevant area; the governing bodies of all other schools in the relevant area (i.e. community and voluntary controlled schools which do not have delegated admission powers) and in the case of schools with a religious character, such body or person representing the religion or religious denomination in question. The relevant area is determined as the geographical area of the Vale of Glamorgan.

5.         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 guide "A Parental Guide to School Admission in the Valeâ€.

6.         The Welsh Government's School Admissions Code 2013 requires admission authorities to act in accordance with the code. The code includes practical guidance and imposes requirements on local authorities and admission authorities regarding the discharge of duties in respect of admissions.

7.         The Local Authority is proposing to consult on a change to admissions policy as required by the Welsh Government's School Admissions Code 2013.

8.         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 school when there are more applications than places available.

·           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.

·           Catchment areas do not apply to special schools or units.

9.         The LA is proposing to consult on a revision to the catchment areas of Barry Island, Colcot, High Street, Oakfield, Palmerston, Ysgol St Curig and Ysgol Dewi Sant Primary Schools.

10.      A review of catchment areas is considered necessary to ensure areas still reflect the needs of the school populations they serve recognising that parental preference has an impact on the overall position.

 

Relevant Issues and Options

11.      The Welsh Government issued a revised School Admissions Code in July 2013.  The council must "act in accordance with the Code" as determined by the School Standards and Framework Act.

12.      The proposed changes to the Council's admissions policy for community schools as required by the School Admissions Code are as follows:

·           A requirement that admission authorities’ oversubscription criteria include alongside “looked after childrenâ€, “previously looked after children†as the first criterion in all instances. This will have a positive impact on a very small minority of applicants (previously looked after children) who have been identified as being adversely affected by the previous code.

·           The setting of common offer dates on which decision letters must be issued within each local authority on a phased basis. This will improve the service received by parents who find the current arrangements confusing. Communication and consistency between individual admission authorities and schools will also be improved.

·           A requirement that waiting lists are maintained until 30th September where schools are oversubscribed. This will have a positive impact on the service received by parents, reducing the need for them to reapply for their first choice school if they are unsuccessful.

·           Additional exceptions to the class size legislation. This will allow for the children of armed forces personnel and previously looked after children to be admitted over the statutory limit of 30 in the foundation phase when applying outside of the normal admission round. It will also allow for the younger child(ren) from a multiple birth to be admitted where the oldest twin or multiple birth sibling was granted a place before the admission number has been reached. This is a rare occasion, however, the change will have a positive impact where applied, preventing multiple birth siblings from having to attend separate schools.

·           More opportunities to vary existing admission arrangements without reference to Welsh Ministers.

The proposed changes detailed above will not have a significant effect on the majority of parents but will have a positive impact in exceptional cases.  There will be an organisational impact to these statutory changes which will be managed within existing resources.

13.      School catchment areas are a tool for managing oversubscription at schools in order to allocate places where there are more applications than places available for children.  Catchment areas are regularly reviewed to ensure that they meet the needs of the population they serve.

14.      The proposed consultation on revisions to school catchment areas are summarised as follows:

·           Barry Island Primary - Transfer of the Knap area to High Street Primary School catchment area.

·           High Street Primary - Incorporate the Knap area within the school catchment area.

·           Oakfield Primary - Transfer of the Pencoedtre Lane area to Colcot Primary and the Pencoedtre development to Palmerston Primary School.

·           Colcot Primary - Incorporate the Golwg y Coed (off Pencoedtre Lane) and nearby area within the school catchment area.

·           Palmerston Primary - Incorporate the Pencoedtre development within the school catchment area.

·           Ysgol St Curig - Transfer of the Rhoose area to Ysgol Dewi Sant.

·           Ysgol Dewi Sant - Incorporate the Rhoose area within the school catchment area.

15.      The above changes will provide a better balance of places in the school catchment areas when compared to the overall number of places available to ensure, as far as possible, pupils living in the catchment area will be able to secure a place at their local school.

16.      The revised catchment areas will support the council’s admission process, promote fair access to primary school places and address high numbers of catchment area applications at certain schools.

17.      The catchment area revisions will be consulted upon with schools and prescribed consultees as part of the consultation exercise on school admission arrangements for the 2014/15 academic year before any decisions are made. The basis for the changes is attached at Appendix A.

18.      A map showing current and revised catchment areas is attached at Appendix B.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

19.      There are no resource implications.  Organisational impact of the proposed changes to the admission arrangements will be managed within existing resources.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

20.      There are no specific sustainability and climate change implications.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

21.      Section 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 act also requires councils to “act in accordance with the (school Admissions) Codeâ€. The regulations set a timescale for the consultation and determination of admission arrangements and this report reflects those requirements.

22.      The Council is required to comply with its duties under the Equality Act 2010, The Human Rights Act 1998, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and the Rights of Children & Young Persons (Wales) Measure 2011.

Crime and Disorder Implications

23.      There are no implications.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

24.      The admission arrangements provide the only basis for decision making. There are no Equal Opportunities Implications arising from this proposed change to the Admission Arrangements.

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 Cabinet.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

27.      The views of Cabinet members have been considered in developing the proposed revisions to the school catchment areas.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

28.      Lifelong Learning.

Background Papers

None

 

Contact Officer

M Matthews - Principal Officer - 01446 709727

 

Officers Consulted

Paula Ham - Head of Service, Strategic Planning and Performance

Mark Haynes - School Organisation and Buildings Manager

Lisa Lewis - Policy and Access Manager

 

Responsible Officer:

Jennifer Hill - Chief Learning and Skills Officer

 

 

 

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