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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Meeting: 14 July, 2014

 

Report of the Cabinet Member for Children's Services

 

Proposal to Amalgamate Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg and Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Talwg

 

Purpose of the Report

1.         To seek Cabinet approval to consult stakeholders on a proposal to create a new 1,361place 3-19 all through school through the amalgamation of Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Talwg and Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg.

Recommendations

1.         Cabinet authorises consultation from 22nd September 2014 for a period of 7 weeks on a proposal to create a new 1,361place all through school through the amalgamation of Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Talwg and Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg by discontinuing Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Talwg and changing the age range of Ysgol Bro Morgannwg to admit children from the age of 3.

2.         Cabinet refers this report to the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) as part of the consultation process and for consideration.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.         To assess the level of support for the proposal to amalgamate Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Talwg and Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg into an all through school on the existing site.

2.         The Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) is aware of and consulted upon the progress with school reorganisation.

Background

2.         On 18th February 2014, the Chair of Governors and Headteacher of Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg and Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Talwg contacted the Council and requested that the schools be amalgamated, following a resolution of the full Governing Body on 27th November 2013.

3.         To make changes of this nature, a statutory process will need to be undertaken, including consultation with stakeholders. As the schools are community schools, this process will need to be undertaken by the Council, although it is at the request of the Governing Body. Any consultation undertaken will be done in partnership with the Headteacher and Governing Body of the schools. 

4.         Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Talwg and Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg were federated in September 2012 under a single governing body and Headteacher. The Headteacher of the secondary school is Headteacher of the federated school and the teacher in charge of the Primary School is an Assistant Headteacher within the senior leadership structure.

5.         The schools are situated in close proximity on adjoining sites off Colcot Road in Barry. Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg which provides for the 11-19 age range has a capacity of 1151. The number on roll in January 2014 was 806.

6.         Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Talwg which provides for the 3 - 11 age range, opened as a seed school in September 2011 in modular buildings with a limited capacity of 90 places. The school buildings are being replaced with a new 210 place school building and nursery which will open in September 2014 on the current site. The number on roll (excluding nursery pupils) in January 2014 was 82.

Relevant Issues and Options

7.         The federation of Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Talwg and Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg  enables the schools to benefit from the following:

·           A consistent vision and shared values across the schools.

·           Shared professional learning community.

·           Consistent engagement with parents across the primary and secondary phase.

·           Expertise across the full age range.

·           Professional development opportunities for staff within a through school environment.

·           Increased focus on the key transitions particularly between Key Stage 2 and the secondary phase ensuring that gains in learning are built upon year by year with the minimum of disruption as the child moves through the learning structure(s). 

8.         The Estyn Inspection of Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg in 2009 described the school as 'a very good school with many outstanding features'; Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Talwg has not been inspected.  Both schools are currently in category B for challenge and support from the Central South Consortium.  In 2013 Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg was in the Welsh Government's top banding group.

9.         Although the schools are federated under a single Headteacher and Governing Body they continue to be two separate entities and this results in unnecessary and duplicated processes. Examples include:

·           The schools have separate budgets which does not support the sharing of resources across the schools as effectively as would be the case with a single budget and also requires separate financial management and accounting processes to be carried out not only by the schools but also by the Council.

·           Each school is required to submit separate pupil census and other data returns.

·           An unnecessary primary to secondary school admissions process.

·           Separate accountability and inspection regimes.

·           Lack of clarity in relation to communication lines from outside agencies including the Local Authority departments.

·           Duplicate visits from Consortium System Leaders.

10.      It is considered that the amalgamation of the two schools will provide a more effective framework to support the new school to build on the strong foundations already established through the Federation.

11.      There are two options for amalgamating the schools. One option is to close both schools and open a new school which is the approach taken to the amalgamation Llanilltud Fawr and Eagleswell Primary schools in Llantwit Major. A governing body for the new school would be established which would decide the staffing structure for the new school including appointment to the post of Headteacher.

12.      An alternative option would be to discontinue one of the schools and change the age range of the other. For example, Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Talwg could be discontinued and the age range of Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg changed. The substantive headteacher of Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg who is also Head of the federated school would become the Headteacher of the new amalgamated school. The existing Federated Governing Body would remain although its membership will need to be altered slightly to ensure compliance with The Government of Maintained Schools (Wales) Regulations 2005 to reflect that it is no longer a Federation.

13.      Following careful consideration of the two options it is proposed to follow the alternative option described in paragraph 12. Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Talwg will be discontinued and the age range of Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg extended to admit children from the age of 3. The capacity of the amalgamated school would be 1,361, with 210 places being allocated to the primary phase and 1,151 to the secondary phase. Pupils from other Welsh medium primary schools will continue to be admitted at year 7. This approach will provide continuity of leadership in terms of the Headship and governance of the school. Care will be taken to ensure that the strong transitional arrangements already established between Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg and its feeder primary schools are maintained and further strengthened as a result of sharing learning and good practice emanating from the new all through structure.      

14.      In order to amalgamate the two schools the Council will need to comply with the statutory process detailed in the School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Act 2013 and outlined below.

15.      A consultation document must be provided to all interested parties allowing a minimum of six weeks to respond, the consultation period must include a minimum of 20 school days. Meetings will be held during the consultation period to provide an opportunity for discussion and clarification.

16.      Within 13 weeks of the closing date for the consultation period a consultation report will be published including a summary of comments received and the Council's response to these comments.

17.      The Council must then decide whether or not to proceed with the proposal within 26 weeks of the end of the consultation period.

18.      If following the consultation process the Council decides that the amalgamation of Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg and Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Talwg is to be progressed a statutory notice is 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.

19.      If objections are received, an objection report must be published with a summary of the objections and the Council's response before the end of 7 days beginning with the day of its determination. Under the legislation as the proposal does not relate to 6th form education the Local Authority can determine the proposal if objections are received.

20.      The Federation of Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg and Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Talwg will need to be formally dissolved and all stakeholders notified in accordance with The Federation of Maintained Schools (Wales) Regulations 2014 which require 125 days' notice (4 months) to be given.

21.      Appendix A sets out the anticipated timescale for this process if approved by Cabinet.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

22.      The funding of the primary and secondary phases will be generated using the schools funding formula. This means that the new amalgamated school will receive the same amount of funding as the current Federation.  The funding formula for 3-19 provision will be reviewed in due course.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

23.      There are no sustainability or climate change implications as a result of this report.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

24.      Powers for Councils to develop school organisation proposals derive from the School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Act 2013 which was enacted on 1 October 2013.

25.      If approved, the statutory notice to amalgamate Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Talwg and Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg will comply with the requirements of The Schools Standards and Organisation (Wales) Act 2013 and the School Organisation Code, Statutory Code Document no. 006/2013.

26.      In order to implement the proposed amalgamation the Federation of Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg and Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Talwg would need to be formally dissolved and all stakeholders notified in accordance with The Federation of Maintained Schools (Wales) Regulations 2014.

27.      The membership of the Governing Body of the proposed amalgamated school should comply with the Government of Maintained Schools (Wales) Regulations 2005 to reflect that it is no longer a Federation.

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.      A key driver to all school reorganisation proposals is to improve school effectiveness including driving up standards of teaching and attainment in all schools, thereby 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 Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Talwg and Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg 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 service objective 2 of the Learning and Skills Directorate Service Plan 2014/18: 'To meet the needs of all learners by providing a range of suitable and accessible learning opportunities and facilities.'

Policy Framework and Budget

32.      This report is a matter for Executive decision.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

33.      Public consultation with all interested parties will be carried out in accordance with legislation.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

34.      Lifelong Learning

Background Papers

None

 

Contact Officer:

Paula Ham

Head of Strategy, Community Learning and Resources

 

Officers Consulted

Lynette Jones: Head of School Improvement and Inclusion

Mike Matthews: Principal School Planning Officer

John Sparks: Head of Governor Support

Ian Teagle: Operational Manager - Strategy and Resources

Operational Manager - Legal

 

Responsible Officer:

Jennifer Hill

Director of Learning and Skills

 

 

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