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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Meeting: 16 December, 2013

 

Report of the Cabinet Member for Children's Services

 

Co-educational Schooling for Barry - Consultation Report

 

Purpose of the Report

1.         To advise Cabinet of the outcome of the public consultation on the principle of a change to coeducational comprehensive schooling in Barry (Appendix A).

Recommendations

1.         That Cabinet notes the findings of the public consultation exercise on the principle of a change to coeducational comprehensive schooling in Barry.

2.         That Cabinet instruct officers to begin a programme of work to develop detailed proposals for a change to coeducational secondary schooling in Barry.

3.         That these proposals be subject to further in-depth consultation with parents and other key stakeholders including Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning).

4.         That this programme of work addresses the concerns raised by those parents that felt they would not support a change and by members of school staff.

5.         That a project board be created and submit regular progress reports of this programme of work to Cabinet.

6.         That Cabinet approve the allocation of up to £25,000 from the School Rationalisation Reserve to fund the appointment of an advisor/project manager on a short term contract.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.         To ensure that the views of Vale residents are used to inform and influence local decision making.

2.         To ensure that the views of Vale residents are used to inform and influence local decision making.

3.         To ensure that these proposals are developed in collaboration with all key stakeholders and that due consideration is given to all aspects of the proposals.

4.         To ensue that these proposals meet the needs of key stakeholders.

5.         To ensure that Members are able to exercise oversight of a significant development to the provision of education in the Vale.

6.         To ensure that the project is progressed promptly and managed effectively.

 

Background

2.         English medium secondary education (excluding faith education) within Barry is currently organised on a single sex basis with Barry Comprehensive School educating boys and Bryn Hafren Comprehensive School educating girls. The schools share a mixed sixth form.

3.         In recent years feedback from parents to the Council's Admissions Team and comments received directly from schools suggests that a number of parents no longer favour single sex education for their children. In order to gain an understanding of how many parents in Barry feel this way a public consultation was undertaken to assess the level of support from the community for developing proposals with the governing bodies of Barry and Bryn Hafren comprehensive schools for a single coeducational secondary school for Barry.

Relevant Issues and Options

4.         The public consultation was comprehensive and wide ranging. In total 951 people participated in the consultation including parents, children and young people and members of staff.

5.         81% of parents that responded to the consultation supported, in principle, a change to coeducational secondary schooling in Barry. The number of highly positive comments offered by parents serves to suggest that this support is not only widely prevalent but also strongly held. The comments offered by parents suggest that the possible social benefits to children of mixed schooling are the key factor driving this response.

6.         75% of secondary school pupils that responded to the consultation would prefer to attend a mixed school. Again the results of the consultation suggest that the possible social benefits of mixed schooling are a key factor.

7.         69% of primary school pupils that participated in the consultation sessions said they would prefer to attend a mixed secondary school.

8.         92% of staff that responded to the consultation did not support, in principle, a change to coeducational secondary schooling in Barry. The very negative response and the supporting comments made by staff suggest that many have serious concerns about how any possible change may affect them.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

9.         A Project Board chaired by the Cabinet Member Children’s Services will be established to progress the programme of work required to develop detailed proposals. The Board will comprise officers, representatives of both schools and the Chair of the Scrutiny Committee. The Board will commence its work in January 2014 with the aim of reporting its findings to Cabinet in summer 2014. Additional advisory/ project management support will be required to ensure the work starts promptly in the new year and sufficient capacity is in place to progress the work in line with the planned timescale. An advisor/project manager could be appointed on a short term contract for this purpose with funding of up to £25,000 being made available from the School Rationalisation Reserve.

10.      If following further consultation the scheme should progress then there will be a need for additional financial resources to fund adaptations to schools.

11.      If following further consultation the scheme should progress then there may be additional human resources implications arising from the need for an amended staffing structure.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

12.      There are a number sustainability and climate change implications arising from the contents of this report. These cut across environmental, social and economic issues.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

13.      There are no legal implications arising specifically from the contents of the consultation report.

Crime and Disorder Implications

14.      There are no crime and disorder implications arising specifically from the contents of the consultation report.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

15.      The public consultation on the principle of coeducational schooling for Barry was open and accessible to all residents of the Vale. A number of equalities groups were contacted as part of the consultation process and an Equalities Impact Assessment has been undertaken.

Corporate/Service Objectives

16.      The Council is committed to ensuring that the citizens of the Vale have the skills, knowledge and abilities required to maximise their opportunities.

Policy Framework and Budget

17.      This report is a matter for Executive decision.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

18.      All key stakeholders, including ward members, were invited to respond to the consultation.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

19.      Lifelong Learning

Background Papers

Coeducational Schooling for Barry - Consultation Report

Coeducational Schooling for Barry - Consultation Document

Executive Summary of Vale of Glamorgan School Merger Consultation with Primaries (produced by Dynamix)

 

Contact Officer:

Robert Jones, Corporate Consultation Officer

 

Officers Consulted

Paula Ham, Head of Strategic Planning & Performance

Mark Haynes, School Organisation and Buildings Manager

Mike Matthews, Principal Strategic Planning Officer

 

Responsible Officer:

Jennifer Hill, Chief Learning and Skills Officer

 

 

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