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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Meeting: 24 March 2014

 

Report of the Cabinet Member for Children’s Services

 

School Admission Arrangements 2015/2016

 

Purpose of the Report

1.         To advise Cabinet of the conclusion of the Council’s statutory consultation exercise on school admission arrangements for Community Schools in accordance with the Education (Determination of Admission arrangements) (Wales) Regulations 2006.

Recommendations

 1.     To approve the Schools Admissions Policy for 2015/2016 attached at Appendix A, so that the requirement to determine the policy by 15 April 2014 is met and the admission arrangements may be implemented for the academic year 2015/2016.

2.      To advise on the outcome of the recent consultation exercise on proposed changes to catchment areas and seek approval of these changes.

3.      To refer this report to Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) for information.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.         The Council is required to review school admission arrangements annually and to determine the arrangements for 2015/16 following appropriate consultation by 15 April 2014.

2.         The Council is required to review catchment areas in order to ensure that they reflect the needs of the schools they serve whilst recognising that parental preference is also important.

3.         To inform the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) of the changes to the admission arrangements and catchment areas

Background

2.      A local authority has a statutory duty to consult on school admission arrangements annually. The School Admission Arrangements must be determined by 15 April 2014 for implementation for the academic year 2015/ 2016.

3.      The LA has a statutory duty and must consult with the governing bodies of the relevant school (those schools who have delegated admission powers); 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). The relevant area is the geographical area of the Vale of Glamorgan.

4.      LAs are advised that they should consult with the Admissions Forum serving the relevant area and parents of children where a significant change is proposed.

5.      The School Admissions Policy was issued for consultation on 10th January 2014 to Headteachers and chairs of governors of all schools in the Vale (including other admission authorities), neighbouring Local Authorities and Diocesan Directors of Education. Responses were required by 1st March 2014.

6.      Consultation was also undertaken on 10th January with parents of children in attendance in Vale primary schools, or due to start nursery at Vale schools where changes were proposed to the catchment area. Responses were required by the 1 March 2014. Details of the proposals were also published on the Council website and displayed at Barry Library.

7.      The Authority is required to produce a document each year for the subsequent school year admission round detailing school admission arrangements for all maintained schools in its area. This can be found within the Council’s Parental Guide to School Admissions which is available on the Council’s website, at local libraries and all schools in the Vale of Glamorgan. A hard copy is also available on request.

8.      The LA has consulted on minor changes to the existing admissions policy which are based on the requirements of the School Admissions Code July 2013. These changes are as follows:

•        A requirement that admission authorities’ oversubscription criteria includes alongside “looked after childrenâ€, “previously looked after children†as the first criterion in all instances.

•        The setting of common offer dates on which decision letters must be issued on a phased basis. (Refer to table in Appendix A)

•        A requirement that waiting lists are maintained until 30th September where schools are oversubscribed.

•        Additional exceptions to the class size legislation.

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

9.     There are no other changes proposed to the oversubscription criteria currently in place.

10.    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 schools 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.

11.    A review of school catchment areas was considered necessary for the Barry and surrounding area to ensure areas reflected the needs of the school populations they serve.

12.    The review focused on a revision to the catchment areas of Barry Island, Colcot, High Street, Oakfield, Palmerston, Ysgol St Curig and Ysgol Dewi Sant primary schools 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 estate within the school catchment area.

•        Palmerston Primary – Incorporate the Pencoedtre development within the school catchment area with the exception of the Golwg-y-Coed estate (as above).

•        Ysgol St Curig – Transfer of the Rhoose area to Ysgol Dewi Sant.

•        Ysgol Dewi Sant – Incorporate the Rhoose area within the school catchment area.

•        Ysgol Nant Talwg – Transfer the Blackberry Drive area of the Cwm Talwg estate, to include Thistle Close and Bramble Avenue, from Ysgol St Curig to Ysgol Nant Talwg.

13.    The basis for the changes is attached at Appendix B.

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

15.    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.

Relevant Issues and Options

16.    The LA received seven written responses to the consultation exercise of which one respondent was in favour of the change in admission arrangements, five were opposed or had serious concerns with regard to the proposed catchment changes and one sought clarification. Four of the respondents were parents, one was a Chair of Governors, one was an AM and one was a parent governor.

17.    The main themes emanating from the consultation exercise in terms of the proposed change to catchment areas and the councils response to each issue are attached at Appendix C.

18.    The Council is committed to ensuring that the views of residents are considered in any consultation and has carefully considered respondents views.

19.    The admission arrangements detailed in the attached School Admissions Policy 2015/2016, if approved will be operational for the 2015/16 academic year.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

20.    There are no immediate resource implications.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

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

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

22.    Section 88 and 89 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 as amended by the Education Act 2002 and the Statuary School Admissions Code 2013 determines that the Admission Authorities shall, before the beginning of each school year determine in accordance with the Act the admission arrangements which are to apply for that year. The Education (Determination of Admission Arrangements) (Wales) Regulations 2006 set out the procedure which the Admission Authorities should follow when determining their admission arrangements, including the consultation and notification process as well as timescales. This report reflects these requirements.

Crime and Disorder Implications

23.    There are no immediate implications.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

24.    Legislation Regulations and the School Admissions Code 2013 provide the basis for decision making, consultation and notification. The proposed changes to the admission arrangements will address potential inequality identified by Welsh Government. The Local Authority is required to comply with its duty under S. 149 of the Equality Act 2010. S. 149 requires a public body when carrying out all of its functions to give due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations in respect of the defined “protected characteristicsâ€.

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.    Consultation has taken place with statutory consultees as detailed in the main body of this report. Consultation has also taken place with parents of children in primary schools, or due to start at Nursery schools/units, where changes to catchment areas are proposed.

28.    The views of consultees have been considered in the development of the proposed admission arrangements and catchment area changes.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

29.    Lifelong Learning.

Background Papers

None

 

Contact Officer

Lisa Lewis – Access & Policy Manager - Tel no 01446 709899

 

Officers Consulted

Paula Ham – Head of Strategy, Community Learning & Resources.

Mike Matthews – Principal Officer

 

Responsible Officer:

Jennifer Hill - Chief Learning and Skills Officer