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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Meeting: 30 June, 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 statutory notice and the process required to be followed as a consequence of the conclusion of the statutory Notice period which would allow a determination to be made on the proposal.

Recommendations

1.         That Cabinet consider the findings of the objection report on the proposal.

2.         Subject to consideration of the above, to approve implementation of the proposal to amalgamate Eagleswell and Llanilltud Fawr primary schools from September 2015.

Reasons for the Recommendations

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

2.         Following the completion of a period of statutory notice, a decision is required on whether to implement the proposal to amalgamate Eagleswell and Llanilltud Fawr primary schools

Background

2.         A report on the Llantwit Learning Community and a proposal to invest in new primary provision was presented to Cabinet on 18th November 2013.

3.         A number of options were considered to progress the Llantwit Learning Community scheme and to address building issues at Eagleswell and Llanilltud Fawr primary schools and Llantwit Major School.

4.         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 for a period of 8 weeks.

5.         Consultation took place between 16th December 2013 and 17th February 2014, which included an extension by one week at the request of parents. The consultation document , Appendix A, is available on the Council's website and in the Members room.

6.         A consultation report must be published within 13 weeks of the end of the period allowed for responses to the consultation. The publication of the consultation report must take place before any proposal is published.

7.         On 28th April 2014 Cabinet considered the outcome of the consultation exercise and whether or not to proceed to publication of a statutory notice on the proposal.   Cabinet approved the publication of the consultation report and agreed to proceed to a statutory notice on the proposal. The consultation report was published and provided to prescribed organisations and bodies on 1st May 2014. The consultation report, Appendix B, is available on the Council's website and in the Members room.

Relevant Issues and Options

8.         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.  Section 48 of the Act requires the publication of a statutory notice.

9.         The Council published a statutory notice on the proposal on 6th May 2014 notifying stakeholders of the intention to amalgamate Eagleswell and Llanilltud Fawr primary schools from September 2015. The 28 day statutory notice period came to an end on 3rd June 2014. A copy of the notice, Appendix C, is available on the Council's website and in the Members room.

10.      In line with the requirements of the new school organisation code, the proposals were published on the Council's website, near the main entrance to the schools which are the subject of the proposal and in the area to be served by the new school. Both schools subject to the proposal was provided with hard copies of the notice to distribute to pupils, parents and staff members (the schools were also able to distribute the notice by e-mail).

11.      On the day of the statutory notice being published the following stakeholders received either a hard copy or were e-mailed a link to the Council's website:

·               Cardiff City Council, Bridgend County Borough Council and Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council;

·               the Church in Wales and Roman Catholic Diocesan Authority for the area;

·               the Governing Body of Eagleswell and Llanilltud Fawr Primary Schools;

·               the Welsh Ministers;

·               Assembly Members (AMs) and Members of Parliament (MPs) representing the area

·               Estyn;

·               the relevant teaching and staff trade unions;

·               Central South Consortium(Joint Education Service) - the relevant Regional Education consortium;

·               the relevant Regional Transport Consortium;

·               the Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales;

·               Llantwit Major Town Council;

·               the Vale of Glamorgan Communities First Partnership;

·               the Vale of Glamorgan Early Years Development and Childcare Partnership (EYDCP) and Young Peoples Partnership;

·               Welsh Language Commissioner and RHAG.

12.      All objections submitted during the notice period had to be made in writing or by e-mail. At the end of the statutory notice period on 3rd June 2014 the Council had received 11 individual responses.

13.      Under section 49 of the 2013 Act the Council must publish a summary of the statutory objections and a response to those objections ("the objection report").

14.      A summary of the key themes and issues raised by respondents and the Council's response are attached in the Objection Report at Appendix D.

15.      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.

Process:

16.      In determining proposals the School Organisation Code states decision makers:

·               must consider whether there are any other related proposals;

·               must ensure that the statutory consultation has been conducted in accordance with the Code; http://wales.gov.uk/topics/educationandskills/publications/guidance/school-organisation-code/?lang=en

·               must ensure that the proposal has been published in accordance with this Code and the notice contains all the required information;

·               must consider the consultation document and consultation report;

·               must consider the objections and the objection report and any responses to the notice supporting the proposals;

17.      The School Organisation Code clearly states that "where a local authority's proposals have received objections, and require determination under section 53 of the Act, the local authority must not approach the determination of these proposals with a closed mind. Objections must be conscientiously considered alongside the arguments in respect of the proposals and in light of the factors set out in section 1.3-1.4 of this code"

18.      In considering the proposal Cabinet should take into account the factors highlighted within the Code which include quality and standards in education, need for places and the impact and accessibility of schools, resourcing of education and other financial implications as detailed within the School Organisation Code.

19.      In addition, in accordance with the 2013 Act, Cabinet are required to give full consideration to the objections received by the community to the proposal. The objections have been collated into an Objection Report (attached at Appendix D) which details the objections received and the Council's response to these concerns.

20.      Should the proposal be approved a 28 day referral period to the Welsh ministers will commence for the following bodies (section 54 of the School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Act 2013):

·               another local authority affected by the proposals;

·               the appropriate religious body for any school affected;

·               the Governing Body of voluntary or foundation school subject to the proposals;

·               a trust holding property on behalf of a voluntary or foundation school subject to the proposals; and

·               a further education institution affected by the proposals.

21.      To ensure that strong leadership for the new school is established without delay, a temporary governing body comprising 14 governors will be established with immediate effect.  The first task of the temporary governing body will be to advertise the position of Headteacher with the aim of the successful candidate taking up post in January 2015.  This will enable the temporary governing body and Headteacher to work closely with the current leadership teams of both schools to effectively support transition to the amalgamated school.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

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

23.      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 support staff will also be determined by the governing body and headteacher.

24.      The Vale has an agreed amalgamation 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.

25.      The estimated additional cost of £51,000 incurred as a result of appointing a Headteacher from January 2015 can be met from central funding.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

26.      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)

27.      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.Statutory Code Document no. 006/2013.  The Council has complied with the relevant provisions in connection with the proposal.

Crime and Disorder Implications

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

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

29.      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

30.      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.

31.      The proposal detailed in this report contributes towards Objective 2 of the Learning and Skills Service Plan: "to meet the needs of learners by providing a range of suitable and accessible learning opportunities and facilities".

Policy Framework and Budget

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

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

33.      Ward members have been consulted on this proposal.

34.      Consultation has taken place with relevant officers.

35.      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

36.      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

Operational Manager - Legal Services

 

Responsible Officer:

Jennifer Hill

Chief Learning and Skills Officer

 

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