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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Meeting: 10 March, 2014

 

Report of the Cabinet Member for Children's Services

 

Feasibility study into future expansion of Welsh Medium secondary education

 

Purpose of the Report

1.         To request Cabinet approval to carry out a feasibility study to investigate how the required future expansion of Welsh Medium secondary education can be accommodated.

Recommendations

1.         That Cabinet approve the request to carry out a feasibility study to investigate how the required expansion of Welsh Medium secondary education can be accommodated.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.         To ensure the full range of options for expanding Welsh Medium secondary education are fully evaluated and inform the Council's bid for 21st Century Schools funding under Band B of the programme.

Background

2.         The aims of the Welsh Government's 21st Century Schools Programme are:

·           Learning environments for children and young people in Wales aged from 3-19 that will enable the successful implementation of strategies for school improvement and better educational outcomes;

·           A sustainable education system through better use of resources to improve the efficiency and cost effectiveness of the education estate which enhances local public service provision; and

·           A 21st century schools standard for all schools in Wales which also reduces the recurrent costs, energy consumption and carbon emissions.

3.         In response to the 21st Century Schools initiative the Vale submitted a 21st Century Schools Strategic Outline Programme (SOP) to the Welsh Government which set out our plans for meeting the aims of the programme up to 2020/21. Due to a reduction in capital funding arising from the economic down turn the Welsh Government contribution towards the programme was reduced to 50% and a revised SOP requested for the highest priority schemes to be completed between 2014/15 and 2019/20.

4.         The aims of the 21st Century Schools programme have also been revised to reduce surplus capacity and to improve the condition of school buildings.

5.         Band B of the 21st Century Schools Programme is due to start in 2020 although the Welsh Government is working with Local Authorities to complete Band A projects before 2018/19 with the intention of commencing Band B in 2018. The Welsh Government has confirmed that Band B will be a three year programme. Although timescales have not been confirmed, from experience with Band A, it can be reasonably assumed that a SOP for Band B will need to be submitted to the Welsh Government during 2016. If this is the case, design and feasibility work to develop Band B projects will need to be started soon in preparation for the submission of the SOP.

6.         The Vale of Glamorgan is served by a single Welsh medium secondary school, Ysgol Bro Morgannwg. The school educates boys and girls aged between 11 and 18 and is located off Colcot Road in Barry.

7.         The Welsh Medium primary sector totalled seven forms of entry when Ysgol Bro Morgannwg opened in 2000 receiving pupils from 5 welsh-medium primary schools. An additional two forms were added to the primary sector in September 2011 with the opening of Ysgol Nant Talwg and Ysgol Gymraeg Dewi Sant.  In addition the statutory process to enlarge Ysgol Gwaun y Nant by 210 places is currently being undertaken.  If approved this will be implemented from September 2014.  The 2011 reception classes will reach secondary school age in 2018 and Ysgol Bro Morgannwg is forecast to be at capacity by 2020. The growth of pupil numbers at Ysgol Bro Morgannwg is shown in Appendix A.

8.         Potentially this could result in up to 300 primary school pupils per annum requiring a Welsh Medium secondary school place which equates to a total of 1847 children compared with the current admission number of 189 and overall capacity of 1151 Welsh Medium secondary school places available within the Vale.

Relevant Issues and Options

9.         Ysgol Bro Morgannwg is forecast to be at capacity by 2020 and additional places will be required to accommodate these children to allow them to continue in Welsh Medium education.

10.      Although additional places will not be required until 2020, due to time required to secure funding and carry out design work, a final decision on how these additional pupils will be accommodated will need to be made in 2015.

11.      The feasibility study will consider all options available to accommodate the increased pupil numbers. The outcome of the feasibility study will be reported to Cabinet to make the decision on the preferred way forward.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

12.      The outline feasibility study will be carried out within existing resources. More in depth feasibility work will incur additional costs which could be funded initially from the school rationalisation reserve. Costs incurred would be added to the Council's bid for Band B 21st Century Schools Programme grant funding. Such costs could include site investigations, investigation of existing services and appointment of specialist consultants.

13.      A bid for capital funding to implement the preferred option and meet this increased demand could be made through the 21st Century Schools Programme. The percentage contribution from the Welsh Government towards Band B projects has not been guaranteed and it should be noted that the contribution towards capital projects has already been reduced from 70% under the transitional funding scheme down to 50% in Band A of the 21st Century Schools Programme.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

14.      The feasibility study will consider sustainability and climate change implications within the options being investigated.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

15.      The feasibility study is the first stage of the process required to increase capacity to meet parental demand. The Schools Standards and Framework Act 1998 places a duty on Local Authorities to meet parental preference with regards to the choice of education medium, that is, through English, Welsh or Denominational.

Crime and Disorder Implications

16.      There are no crime and disorder implications arising from this matter.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

17.      The completion of the feasibility study is the first stage in providing additional places in Welsh medium secondary education to meet parental demand.

Corporate/Service Objectives

18.      The feasibility study into the expansion of Welsh Medium education progresses objective LS1 of the Corporate Plan 2013-2017 to ensure that 'citizens of the Vale of Glamorgan have the skills, knowledge and abilities required to maximise their opportunities.'

19.      This scheme also contributes towards the completion of Outcome 3, Objective 9 of the Learning and Skills Directorate Service Plan 2013/17 to ensure 'Learners have access to an appropriate range of high level provision.'

Policy Framework and Budget

20.      This is a matter for executive decision by Cabinet.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

21.      Ward Member consultation has not been undertaken as this report relates to the whole of the Vale of Glamorgan.

22.      Appropriate consultation with interested parties will be carried out through the feasibility study process.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

23.      Lifelong Learning.

Background Papers

None.

Contact Officer

Mark Haynes                                    School Organisation and Buildings Manager

Officers Consulted

Paula Ham                            Head of Strategy, Community Learning and Resources

Jane Wade                            Operational Manager, Property

Gemma Jones                      Accountant

Responsible Officer:

Jennifer Hill                          Chief Learning and Skills Officer

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