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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Meeting: 28th April 2014

 

Report of the Cabinet Member for Children's Services

 

Proposal to create a new 420 place primary school as part of the Llantwit Learning Community by amalgamating Eagleswell and Llanilltud Fawr Primary Schools

 

Purpose of the Report

1.         To advise Cabinet of the outcome of the consultation exercise undertaken to create a new 420 place primary school as part of the Llantwit Learning Community by amalgamating Eagleswell and Llanilltud Fawr Primary Schools and to decide whether or not to publish a statutory public notice to this effect.

Recommendations

1.         That Cabinet note the findings of the consultation exercise on the proposal.

2.         To approve the publication of a consultation report on the proposal as required by the School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Act 2013 and subsequent School Organisation Code 2013.

3.         To approve the publication of a statutory public notice required to amalgamate Eagleswell and Llanilltud Fawr Primary Schools as part of the Llantwit Learning Community.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.         To ensure the views of prescribed consultees are taken into account in the decision making process.

2.         To ensure the Local Authority meets the legal requirements of the School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Act 2013 and School Organisation Code 2013.

3.         To progress the Llantwit Learning Community and establish in a timely manner a new 420 place primary school formed from the amalgamation of Eagleswell and Llanilltud Fawr Primary Schools.

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 was required to submit a 21st Century Schools Strategic Outline Programme (SOP) to the Welsh Government in October 2010 which set out our plans for meeting the aims of the programme up to 2020/21.   These plans included the Llantwit Learning Community comprising a new 1,050 place Llantwit Major Comprehensive School, a new 420 place English medium school formed from the amalgamation of Eagleswell and Llanilltud Fawr primary schools and a 210 place Welsh Medium school to expand Ysgol Gymraeg Dewi Sant. Whilst these schools would retain separate identities they would be co-located and benefit from the use of shared facilities.

4.         Due to reduced levels of capital funding the Welsh Government subsequently cut the level of grant available for 21st Century School Schemes from 75% of the cost to 50% and authorities were required to submit revised programmes. In light of decreased funding it was only possible to include a reduced scheme for Llantwit Major Comprehensive School and the expansion of Ysgol Gymraeg Dewi Sant. The expansion of Ysgol Gymraeg Dewi Sant is being undertaken as a separate scheme over 2015/16 and 2016/17. The reduced Llantwit Major Comprehensive School scheme allows for the refurbishment of existing buildings to a good standard and the removal of those buildings which are in the poorest condition. However, it will not address the issue of there being a number of separate buildings across the site which presents a challenge to effective buildings and facilities management, timetabling of lessons and management of pupils between lessons.

5.         Funding of £12,476,000 was initially built in to the capital programme for the refurbishment and remodelling of Llantwit Major Comprehensive School between 2015/16 - 2017/18. Due to concerns over the condition of the primary school buildings, particularly the Llanilltud Fawr School building which will need to be replaced in the medium term, feasibility work on the Llantwit Learning Community has continued.

6.         The Llanilltud Fawr Primary School building requires replacement in the medium term and Eagleswell requires upgrading. Reduced capital funding has effectively removed the option of addressing the condition issues of both school buildings. Furthermore, this option would not fully meet the aims of the 21st Century Schools Programme (refer to paragraph 2)

7.         A report on the Llantwit Learning Community and a proposal to invest in New Primary Provision was presented to Cabinet on the 18th November 2013. A number of options were considered to progress the Lantwit Learning Community scheme and to address building issues at Eagleswell and Llanilltud Fawr primary schools and Llantwit Major School.

8.         Cabinet approved a proposal to create a new 420 place primary school as part of the Llantwit Learning Community by amalgamating Eagleswell and Llanilltud Fawr primary schools and to carry out a consultation exercise on the proposal from 16th December 2013 for a period of 8 weeks. The consultation exercise would follow the requirements of the School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Act 2013 and School Organisation Code 2013. The report was also referred to Corporate Resources and Lifelong Learning Scrutiny Committees for consideration as part of the consultation process.

9.         A consultation report must be published within 13 weeks of the end of the period allowed for responses to the consultation exercise. The report must be published electronically and hard copies must be made available on request. All prescribed consultees must either receive a hard copy or be e-mailed a link to the relevant website.

10.      The publication of the consultation report must take place before any proposal is published.

Relevant Issues and Options

11.      The Welsh Government issued a School Organisation Code in 2013 that came into effect from the 1st October 2013. The Local Authority must “act in accordance with the Code†as determined by the School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Act 2013.

12.      Section 48 of the 2013 Act requires that before school organisation proposals are published they must first be subject to consultation. A consultation document must be published and provided to prescribed consultees and Welsh Ministers. The consultation document is attached at Appendix A.

13.      Appropriate consultation has taken place with prescribed consultees the details of which are attached at Appendix B. Consultation has also been undertaken with children on the school council of Eagleswell and Llanilltud Fawr Primary Schools.

14.      Consultation was undertaken between the 16th December 2013 and 10th February 2014. Consultees were issued with a hard copy of the document which was also published on the Council’s website. The consultation period was extended to the 17th February 2014 at the request of parents. Meetings with staff and governors of Eagleswell and Llanilltud Fawr primary schools were held on the 14th January and the 24th January 2014 respectively. Drop in sessions for parents were held on the 4th February 2014 for Llanilltud Fawr parents and the 7th February 2014 for Eagleswell parents. Both school councils were consulted on the 24th January 2014.

15.      The Authority is required to publish a consultation report on the conclusion of the consultation exercise within 13 weeks of the end of the period allowed for responses to the consultation exercise.

16.      The Authority received 161 individual responses to the consultation exercise by the consultation closing date and a petition containing 289 signatures from staff and pupils at Llantwit Major School in favour of the proposal.  Of the 161 individual responses 71 (44%) were in favour of the proposal, and 56 were opposed (35%).

17.      Key concerns relating to the proposal centred on:

·           traffic issues;

·           walking routes to schools;

·           distance to amalgamated school;

·           size of school;

·           local housing growth;

·           loss of community school

18.      In respect of traffic, walking routes, parking and site issues, these will be considered under the planning stage consultation which is separate from the education consultation.

19.      For those in favour of the proposal the key themes were that: 

·           Llantwit has long been overlooked for development;

·           needs to happen to secure the future educational needs of Llantwit Major;

·           a fantastic opportunity to provide children from the area with a first class educational facility;

·           potential to transform the learning environment and make available educational facilities/resources equal to the very best in Wales;

·           the project will provide a state of the art education facility which the young people of the area truly deserve.

20.      A petition against the proposed closure of Eagleswell School was received on 24th March 2014 along with an on-line petition providing email addresses of respondents and some comments. 

21.      Although the petitions were received after the closing date of 10th February, the respondents comments have nevertheless been considered. The concerns raised are similar to those listed in paragraph 17 of this report.             

22.      A summary of the key themes and issues raised by respondents and the Council's response are attached in the consultation report at Appendix C.

23.      The proposal will meet the aims of the 21st century schools programme to transform educational opportunities in Llantwit Major that will enable the schools and community to access a wide range of new facilities.

24.      To progress the proposal a statutory notice must be 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. It is proposed to issue a statutory notice for the amalgamation to run from the 6th May to 3rd June 2014 if approval to proceed is granted.

25.      Following the publication of a statutory notice and objection period, a further report to Cabinet will be issued on the outcome of the statutory notice period.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

26.      The proposed costs and funding were detailed in the report presented to Cabinet on 18 November 2013 and subsequently approved (minute C2081).

27.      The governing body are responsible for determining staffing levels at schools. It is anticipated that there will be no reduction in pupil numbers at the school and the number of teaching staff will also remain unchanged. The number of non-teaching staff will also be determined by the governing body and headteacher.

28.      The Vale has an agreed protocol which will be applied in the event of this proposal being implemented as will conditions provided for in the School Teachers' Pay and Conditions Document 2013 and Guidance on School Teachers' Pay and Conditions.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

29.      The scheme will meet BREEAM excellent rating significantly reducing the running costs and carbon emissions arising from the existing buildings. There would be community involvement in the development in the Llantwit Learning Community and provision of community facilities. Community benefits including job creation and work experience must be demonstrated /maximised for all schemes.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

30.      Powers for Councils to develop school organisation proposals are governed by the School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Act 2013 and the School Organisation Code 2013. The Council is to comply with the relevant provisions in connection with the proposal.

31.      If approved, the statutory notice to amalgamate Eagleswell and Llanilltud Fawr Primary Schools is to 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

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

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

33.      The Llantwit Learning Community would provide pupils and the community with access to a wide range of facilities. A key driver will be to improve school effectiveness including driving up standards of teaching and attainment in all schools, improving educational outcomes for children and young people in all phases and helping to narrow the inequalities in achievement between advantaged and disadvantaged groups and individuals.

Corporate/Service Objectives

34.      The amalgamation of Eagleswell and Llanilltud Fawr schools 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.

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

Policy Framework and Budget

36.      This is a matter for Executive decision by the Cabinet.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

37.      Ward members have been consulted on this proposal.

38.      Consultation has taken place with relevant officers.

39.      Public consultation with all interested parties in accordance with legislation has been carried out regarding the amalgamation of Eagleswell and Llanilltud Fawr Primary Schools.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

40.      Lifelong Learning.

Background Papers

None.

 

Contact Officer

Mike Matthews

Principal Officer, Strategy, Community Learning and Resources

01446 709727

 

Officers Consulted

Jennifer Hill, Chief Learning and Skills Officer

Paula Ham - Head of Strategy, Community Learning and Resources

Mark Haynes - School Organisation and Buildings Manager

Operational Manager - Legal Services

 

Responsible Officer:

Jennifer Hill

Chief Learning and Skills Officer

 

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