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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Meeting: 15 December, 2014

 

Report of the Cabinet Member for Children's Services

 

Proposal to create a 1,361 place 3 - 19 all through school through the amalgamation of Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Talwg and Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg by closing Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Talwg and extending the age range of Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg

 

Purpose of the Report

1.         To advise Cabinet of the outcome of the consultation exercise undertaken to create a 1,361 place 3 - 19 all through school by amalgamating Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Talwg and Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg 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.

3.         To approve the publication of a statutory public notice to amalgamate Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Talwg and Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg.

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 amalgamation of Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Talwg and Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg.

Background

2.         The Council has a duty to review the number and type of schools in the area and to make the best use of resources to raise standards in schools.

3.         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.

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 have been replaced with a new 210 place school building and nursery which opened in September 2014 on the current site. The number on roll (excluding nursery pupils) in January 2014 was 82.

7.         A report on a proposal to create a 1,361 place 3 - 19 all through school through the amalgamation of Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Talwg and Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg was presented to Cabinet on 14 July 2014. Two options were considered for amalgamation: close both schools and open a new school or discontinue Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Talwg and change the age range of Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg to admit children from the age of 3.

8.         Cabinet approved a proposal to amalgamate both schools by discontinuing Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Talwg and extending the age range of Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Morgannwg to admit children from the age of 3.  A consultation exercise on the proposal was to be carried out in September 2014 for a period of 7 weeks. The consultation exercise would follow the requirements of the School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Act 2013 and School Organisation Code 2013.

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 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 at Appendix A [attached].

13.      Appropriate consultation has taken place with prescribed consultees and a range of individuals the details of which are at Appendix B [attached]. Consultation has also been undertaken with children on the school council of Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Talwg and Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg.

14.      Consultation was undertaken between 24 September 2014 and 12 November 2014. Consultees were either issued with a hard copy of the document or were e-mailed a copy and link to the Council's website. The document was published on the Council’s website on 24 September 2014. Meetings with staff of both schools were held on 5 November 2014. A drop in session for parents was held on 22 October 2014. Both school councils were consulted on 23 October 2014.

15.      As stated in paragraph 9, 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.

16.      The Authority received 7 individual responses to the consultation exercise by the closing date.  Of the 7 responses, 3 were positive, 1 was not in favour, 1 offered no opinion either way, 1 requested information and 1 response was received from Estyn providing their opinion on the overall merits of the proposal.

17.      Key concerns of the proposal related to:

·               The specific needs of varying age groups and of shared staff and pupil ethos;

·               Staggered start times, uniform, school name and logo;

·               School transport and catchment areas;

·               Job losses and changes for children.

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

·               Given the close geographical proximity close working partnership and ethos that currently exists, this is both a natural progression yet innovative too, resulting in efficiency savings;

·               Focussed on the needs of the children and community;

·               In favour of proposal and able to see the benefits.

19.      A summary of the key themes and issues raised by respondents and the Council's response are contained within Appendix C [attached].

20.      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 5 January 2015 to 2 February 2015 if approval to proceed is granted.

21.      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)

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 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.

25.      If approved, the statutory notice to amalgamate Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg and Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Talwg 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, 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 has been carried out in accordance with Schools Standards and Organisation (Wales) Act 2013 and the School Organisation Code, Statutory Code Document no. 006/2013.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

34.      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

Anne Brown, School Organisation Manager, Strategy, Community Learning and Resources

 

Responsible Officer:

Jennifer Hill

Director of Learning and Skills

 

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