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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Meeting: 1 December, 2014

 

Report of the Cabinet Member for Children's Services

 

Proposal to create a 420 place primary school through the amalgamation of Dinas Powys Infant and Murch Junior Schools by closing Murch Junior School and extending the age range of Dinas Powys Infant School

 

Purpose of the Report

1.         To advise Cabinet of the outcome of the Statutory Notice on the proposal and the subsequent process to be followed which would allow a determination to be made.

Recommendations

1.         That Cabinet notes that no objections have been received to the published Statutory Notice to amalgamate Dinas Powys Infant and Murch Junior School.

2.         To approve implementation of the proposal to amalgamate Dinas Powys Infant and Murch Junior Schools from 5 January 2015.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.         The Local Authority is required to determine its own proposals under the School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Act 2013 and subsequent School Organisation Code 2013.

2.         Following the completion of a period of statutory notice, a decision is required on whether to proceed to implement the proposal to amalgamate Dinas Powys Infant and Murch Junior School.

Background

2.         Following a programme of amalgamating infant and junior schools, the most recent of which are Cadoxton Primary School in 2002 and Romilly Primary School in 2008, the infant and junior Schools in Dinas Powys are the last remaining single phase Community schools in the Vale.

3.         The Headteacher post at Murch Junior School became vacant at the end of August 2014 following the resignation of the current post holder. The resignation presented an opportunity for the Council to review the current single phase structure of the schools with a view to amalgamating the schools on their current sites under a single governing body and headteacher.

4.         Cabinet met on the 28 April 2014 and approved consultation on a proposal to create a new 420 place primary school through the amalgamation of Dinas Powys Infant and Murch Junior Schools.

5.         Consultation took place between 2 June 2014 and 28 July 2014 with prescribed consultees and a range of individuals. The consultation document is attached at Appendix A.

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 a statutory notice is published on the proposal.

7.         Cabinet met on the 22 September 2014 to consider the outcome of the consultation exercise and to decide whether or not to proceed to publication of a statutory notice on the proposal.  

8.         Cabinet approved the publication of the consultation report and to proceed to the publication of a statutory notice on the proposal. The consultation report was published and provided to prescribed organisations and bodies on 26 September 2014. The consultation report is attached at Appendix B.

9.         A statutory notice on the proposal was published on 30 September 2014 for a 28 day period.

Relevant Issues and Options

10.      The Welsh Government issued a School Organisation Code in 2013 that came into effect from the 1 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.

11.      The Council published a Statutory Notice on the proposal on 30 September 2014 notifying stakeholders of the intention to amalgamate Dinas Powys Infant and Murch Junior Schools from 5 January 2015. The 28 day statutory notice period came to an end on 28 October 2014. A copy of the notice is attached at Appendix C.

12.      In line with the requirements of the School Organisation Code, the proposals were published on the Vale of Glamorgan Council's website and near the main entrance to the existing schools which are the subject of the proposal. The notice was also displayed in Dinas Powys library. Each school subject to the proposal was provided with copies of the Notice to distribute to pupils, parents and staff members (the schools may distribute the notice by e-mail). The statutory notice was distributed to parents and staff via parent mail and e-mail, hard copies were distributed to those with no access to e-mail.

13.      On the day of the statutory notice being published the following were e-mailed a link to the published notice on the Vale of Glamorgan website and were also provided with a copy of the notice:

·               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 Bodies of Dinas Powys Infant and Murch Junior School;

·               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;

·               Dinas Powys Community 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.

14.      Any objections submitted during the notice period had to be made in writing.

15.      Under Section 49 of the 2013 Act, where objections are received, proposers must publish a summary of the statutory objections and the proposer's response to those objections ("the objection report").

16.      At the end of the statutory notice period on 28 October 2014, the Council received no objections to the proposal. There is therefore no requirement to publish an objection report as part of the proposal.

17.      In accordance with the School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Act 2013 and subsequent School Organisation Code 2013, the Vale of Glamorgan Council is required to determine the proposal within 16 weeks of the end of the objection period.

Process:

18.      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 thee 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;

·               should consider, in the case of a proposal to change the category of a school, whether there are any benefits. If no benefits can be identified, such proposals should not be approved; and

·               must not approve change of category proposals where a variation in the trust deed is necessary but has not yet taken place.

19.      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.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

20.      Amalgamating the two schools into a primary school on two sites could achieve revenue savings in the region of £100,000 per annum (dependent upon the final staffing structure determined by the governing body) due to efficiencies resulting from economies of scale.

21.      Capital funding to bring both schools onto a single site is not currently identified and will be considered along with other priorities, within the Council's bid for Band B funding under the Welsh Government's 21st Century Schools Programme. It must be noted, however, that this funding is not anticipated to be available until 2018 at the earliest.

22.      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.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

23.      Establishment of a single phase primary school offers a more efficient and sustainable model of delivery.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

24.      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.  

25.      The Council has complied with the requirements of the School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Act 2013 and the School Organisation Code in connection with the proposal.

Crime and Disorder Implications

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

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

27.      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

28.      The amalgamation of Dinas Powys Infant and Murch Junior 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.

29.      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

30.      This is a matter for Executive decision.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

31.      Ward members have been consulted on this proposal.

32.      Public consultation with all interested parties in accordance with legislation has been carried out regarding the amalgamation of Dinas Powys Infant and Murch Junior Schools.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

33.      Lifelong Learning.

Background Papers

None.

 

Contact Officer

Mike Matthews

Principal Officer, Strategy, Community Learning and Resources

01446 709727

 

Officers Consulted

Paula Ham - Head of Strategy, Community Learning and Resources

Operational Manager - Legal Services

 

Responsible Officer:

Jennifer Hill

Director of  Learning and Skills

 

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