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Agenda Item No

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

Cabinet Meeting: 23 February, 2015

Report of the Cabinet Member for Children's Services and Schools

Barry Secondary School Transformation

 

Purpose of the Report

1. To seek Cabinet approval to consult stakeholders on a proposal to transform secondary education in Barry:-

i.  by establishing a new mixed English-medium comprehensive school;

ii.  by expanding Ysgol Bro Morgannwg; and

iii. by relocation to create two distinct campuses for Welsh-medium and English-medium education.

Recommendations

1. Cabinet notes the consultation that has taken place thus far along with the potential benefits of amalgamating Barry and Bryn Hafren comprehensive schools.

 

2. Cabinet endorse the principle of creating a new mixed English-medium comprehensive school for Barry.

 

3. Cabinet authorises consultation from 11 May 2015 for a period of 8 weeks on the following proposals:

i.  The creation of a new 2,400 place mixed English-medium comprehensive school     through the amalgamation of Barry Comprehensive School and Bryn Hafren Comprehensive School located on the two current sites from September 2017.

ii.  The expansion of Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg from 1,151 places to 1,847 places from September 2020 to meet the increased demand for places.

iii. The relocation of the new English-medium secondary school to the site currently occupied by Barry Comprehensive School, Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg and Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Talwg from September 2020, creating a single campus for the school.

iv. The relocation of Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg and Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Talwg to a new Welsh-medium campus on the current Bryn Hafren site from September 2020.

 

4. Cabinet notes that the implementation of the proposals would be subject to consideration of responses to consultation, to the relevant statutory processes and with respect to recommendations iii and iv to the availability of capital funding from Welsh Government.

 

5. Cabinet agrees establishment of a Barry Secondary School Transformation Board including representatives of the three secondary schools and from the primary sector.

 

6. Cabinet refers this report to the Lifelong Learning and Corporate Resources Scrutiny Committees for consideration.

 

7. That following consultation Cabinet receives a consultation report detailing the responses received and considers whether or not to publish the relevant statutory notices.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1. To note the work that has been completed.

 

2. To establish the in principle view of Cabinet.

 

3. To assess the level of support for the proposals to transform secondary education in Barry as outlined above.

 

4. To clarify the key constraints on the decision-making process.

 

5. To ensure effective governance and management of the proposed project.

 

6. The Lifelong Learning and Corporate Resources Scrutiny Committees are aware of and comment on the reorganisation and investment proposals.

 

7. To comply with the School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Act 2013.

Background

2. Secondary school education in Barry is presently provided by four schools:

• Barry Comprehensive for boys aged 11-16 years, with a partially mixed 6th form.

• Bryn Hafren Comprehensive for girls aged 11-16 years, with a partially mixed 6th form.

• St Richard Gwyn Roman Catholic Comprehensive for boys and girls aged 11-16 years.

• Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg for boys and girls aged 11-18 years taught in the Welsh language. Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Talwg for boys and girls aged 3 - 11 is federated with Ysgol Gufun Bro Morgannwg.

This report does not include any proposals affecting St Richard Gwyn School.

 

3. The case for the establishment of mixed sex secondary provision in Barry has been debated intermittently over many years. Interest has increased in recent years and following a Cabinet decision on 15 July 2013, public consultation was undertaken in 2013 to establish the extent of local support for the principle of co-education in Barry.  Consultation sought to establish local views about the establishment of a coeducational school formed by the amalgamation of Barry and Bryn Hafren Comprehensive Schools which would operate on the two current sites. In total 951 people participated in the consultation including parents, children and young people and members of staff. The responses indicated that:

• 81% of parent respondents supported a change to co-educational secondary schooling;

• The large number of highly positive comments offered by parents indicate that this view is strongly held;

• The social and well-being benefits for learners are the key factors driving this response;

• 75% of secondary school pupil respondents supported a change; again the possible social benefits of mixed schooling are a key factor;

• 69% of primary school pupils who participated in the consultation sessions said they would prefer to attend a mixed secondary school;

• 92% of staff respondents did not support a change to co-educational secondary schooling in Barry. Many staff had concerns about how possible change might affect them and the implications for teaching across a split site school.

 

4. Cabinet considered the responses to consultation at their meeting on 16 December 2013.  In response to the consultation, Cabinet instructed officers to begin a programme of work to develop detailed proposals for a change to coeducational secondary schooling and that the detailed proposals should address the concerns raised by those parents and members of school staff who felt they would not support a change.  Members agreed that these proposals should be subject to further in-depth consultation with parents and other key stakeholders including Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning).  Cabinet established a Project Board to progress the work required to develop detailed proposals for an amalgamation. The Project Board was chaired by the Cabinet Member for Children's Services and Schools and comprised senior officers from the Learning and Skills Directorate, Headteachers, chairs of governors and governor representatives from both schools and the Chair of the Lifelong Learning Scrutiny Committee.

 

5. Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Talwg and Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg were federated in September 2012 under a single governing body and Headteacher. The Council recently consulted on a proposal to amalgamate Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Talwg and Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg to create a new all through school from September 2015. Following Cabinet's consideration of the results of the consultation a statutory notice was published on 6th January 2015 to amalgamate the schools. Cabinet will make a final decision on this proposal in March 2015. Given the two schools are currently federated with the possibility of amalgamating later this year, they are considered together throughout this report.

 

6. The capacity of Barry, Bryn Hafren and Bro Morgannwg schools and the numbers on roll at the Pupil Level Annual Schools Survey (PLASC) 2014 as well as projected pupil numbers are shown in Appendix A. The number on roll at Barry Comprehensive in January 2014 was 1,062 including a 6th form of 197, compared to a current capacity of 1,423. The number on roll at Bryn Hafren Comprehensive was 1,106 including a 6th form of 256, compared to a capacity of 1,331. Whilst both schools have considerable surplus capacity at present, it is forecast to reduce in future years as larger pupil cohorts feed into the schools from the primary sector. The projections show estimated pupil numbers for the two schools of 2,388 by 2025 compared to a joint capacity of 2,754.

 

7. The projections show a shortage of places in the Welsh medium secondary sector from 2020 onwards which was reported to Cabinet on 10th March 2014 (minute ref C2235). Cabinet resolved that, 'the request to carry out a feasibility study to investigate how the required expansion of Welsh medium secondary education can be accommodated is approved'.

 

8. Although the work on co-education and Welsh medium education was initially carried out as two separate projects, it soon became clear that a coordinated approach should be taken to maximise the opportunities for transformation for both Welsh-medium and English-medium schooling.

 

9. Barry and Bryn Hafren Comprehensive Schools are situated in the north of Barry, 1.253 miles apart by road and 1.023 miles as the crow flies (refer to map Appendix B) .Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg and Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Talwg are situated in very close proximity on adjoining sites off Colcot Road. The Bro Morgannwg site also adjoins the Barry Comprehensive School site. Bro Morgannwg and Nant Talwg are 1.041miles from Bryn Hafren Comprehensive School by road or 0.924 miles as the crow flies.  Around 21 % of Barry Comprehensive School pupils and 26% of Bryn Hafren pupils are entitled to free school meals, which is above the Welsh average of 15.9% for secondary schools whereas 6% of Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg pupils are entitled to free school meals.

 

10. Property condition surveys have recently been carried out for all Vale Schools. The inspections comprise a visual assessment of the condition of all exposed parts of the buildings to identify significant defects and items of disrepair. The three comprehensive school buildings are generally in a satisfactory condition with some elements in poor condition exhibiting major defects. Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Talwg is accommodated in a new building which opened in September 2014.

Bryn Hafren Comprehensive School

The main building (built circa 1968) is a steel frame construction with brickwork outer skin, aluminium windows and feature panels with a flat felt covered roof. It is estimated that work to the condition of the building will cost £2.220M and includes:

• Re decoration

• Re roofing with associated works

• Upgrade emergency lighting

• Replacement boiler

• Compliance works

• Disability Access works

 

Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg

The school has been built in several phases with the initial four phases based around the original building that was constructed circa 1963. This is a steel frame construction with brickwork cladding and a flat roof with single ply membrane covering. The new extensions phases 5 - 8 were constructed circa 2001 and are steel frame construction with brickwork and render cladding and a pitch roof of profiled sheet covering. The estimated cost of condition work and associated works required to the school building is £1.092M and includes:

• Re roofing with associated works

• Re decoration

• Replacement Boiler

• Upgrade hot water systems

• Compliance works

• Disability Access Works

 

Barry Comprehensive School

The main building was built circa 1963. It has a concrete frame construction with a brickwork outer skin and a flat roof with a single ply membrane covering. Modern extensions which were added to the main building circa 1996 are steel frame with a brickwork outer skin and pitch roof with steel profile sheet covering. The canteen and sports hall built circa 1999 are of steel frame construction with brickwork outer skin and pitched roofs with steel profile sheet covering. The estimated cost of condition and associated works to the buildings is £3.668M and includes:

• Re roofing with associated works.

• Re decoration.

• Toilet upgrades.

• Concrete repairs.

• Upgrade emergency lighting.

• Replacement fire alarm

• New heat emitters.

• Upgrade changing rooms.

• Replacement doors.

• Disability Access works.

Relevant Issues and Options

Pupil attainment and school improvement

 

11. The Council has placed on record its concerns about performance at two of the three schools over the past two years and the schools' capacity for rapid and sustainable improvement. Whilst there has been improvement in some areas by these schools, performance on key measures in Key Stage 4 in particular remains poor when compared to similar schools. Appendix C shows the outcomes for the three schools against these key measures over a period of 4 years as well as the quartile ranking when compared to similar schools.

 

12. Bryn Hafren Comprehensive School underwent a full Estyn inspection in May 2012 which concluded that the school's performance was adequate and its prospects for improvement good. It was placed in a follow up category by Estyn which triggered formal monitoring visits to check the school's progress. The most recent monitoring visit in January 2015 resulted in the school remaining under Estyn monitoring. It was recognised that a number of improvements have been made although these have yet to have an impact on outcomes for pupils.  Pupil attainment at key stage 4 has improved on most measures and on a number of measures the school continues to perform well compared with similar schools. However, in relation to the key measures of GCSE performance in mathematics, English and the proportion of students attaining 5 A* - C grades including English/Welsh and mathematics, performance continues to be weaker than that of similar schools with performance in mathematics placing the school in the fourth benchmarking quarter for the third consecutive year. The Welsh Government categorisation of schools puts schools in one of four groups for standards and for bringing about improvement with one being the highest grouping for standards and A being the highest for improvement. This categorisation places Bryn Hafren in group 2 for standards and category C for improvement: its categorisation is therefore 'amber'.

 

13. Barry Comprehensive School was inspected by Estyn in March 2013 and was assessed as having good performance and good prospects for improvement. Following disappointing examination results in the summer of 2013, the school received a formal warning letter from the local authority detailing concerns about its performance. It has since improved pupil attainment but progress continues to be insufficient. In relation to key measures of GCSE performance, performance in mathematics, English and the proportion of students achieving 5 A* - C grades including English/Welsh and mathematics continues to be weaker than that of other similar schools with performance in English and the achievement of 5 A*-C grades including English/Welsh and mathematics in the fourth benchmarking quarter.    The school is currently benefitting from inclusion in the Welsh Government's Schools Challenge Cymru programme.  Appropriate intervention measures have been put in place to support the school to improve. The Welsh Government categorisation model places Barry Comprehensive School in group 4 for standards and category C for improvement: its categorisation is therefore 'red'.

 

14. The latest Estyn inspection of Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg in 2008 judged it to be a very good school with many outstanding features. Teaching was judged to be outstanding. The quality of relationships between teachers and pupils was considered exceptional.  Pupil attainment at key stage 4 is strong and on a range of measures GCSE performance is in the two upper quartiles compared with other similar schools.  The Welsh Government categorisation model places the school in group 1 for standards and category A for improvement: its categorisation is therefore 'green'. Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Talwg has not yet been inspected.

 

Co-education and amalgamation

 

15. The Project Board began its work in February 2014 to develop detailed proposals for a change to co-educational secondary schooling.  At outset the following key outcomes of successful amalgamation were identified by the Project Board.  Any options for amalgamation should be evaluated to determine whether they would deliver these key outcomes.

• Excellent standards for all children.

• School of choice for parents and children across the region and beyond.

• A strong identity as one school with reputation for high standards; innovative learning; international focus and learning experience.

• Each individual child is supported and challenged to achieve excellence.

• Community values and uses the resource all year round.

 

16. The Project Board considered the arguments for and against co-education.  They considered a range of sources of information and a number of arguments including the academic argument, the social argument and the cognitive/psychological argument.  They noted the OFSTED report, gender and education: the evidence on pupils in England (DfES 2007) concluded 'The jury is still out on the impact of single sex schooling on educational attainment.  Several international reviews have failed to identify consistent or strong findings for single sex education'.  They noted that most secondary schools in Wales are mixed with just two pairs of single sex schools, including the Barry schools, continuing to operate as single sex schools.  They also noted the responses to consultation in 2013 about the principle of establishing a mixed school through the amalgamation of Barry and Bryn Hafren schools and that the parents of Barry had given a strong indication that the majority wanted coeducation in their town.

 

17. As part of the work carried out by the Project Board to further develop proposals, research was carried out on amalgamations and split site education which included desktop analysis as well as telephone and face to face interviews with leaders involved in recent, mixed gender amalgamations and spilt-site schools. In all cases, examples were sought which matched as closely as possible the demographic, social and educational context of Barry and Bryn Hafren Comprehensive Schools. Some outstanding examples were identified showing successful amalgamations of single sex schools resulting in more successful learning outcomes for pupils. It is significant to note that some schools in very difficult circumstances had merged and were achieving outstanding academic and other results. For example, in two amalgamated schools with over 2,000 students and with free school meals in excess of 30%; 76% and 77% of students achieved L2+ (5 GCSE grades at A* - C including English and maths). A small number of UK schools stood out as significant sources of good practice for the proposed Barry amalgamation. The intelligence gained from interviews with these schools is summarised in Appendix D.

 

18. Research conducted on the performance of large secondary schools with pupil numbers in excess of 2,200 revealed that whilst the number of maintained schools falling within this category is small the percentage L2+ achieved by these schools is higher than that presently achieved by both Barry and Bryn Hafren (refer to Appendix E). For example, Ivybridge Community College in Devon with 2,354 pupils achieved 77% L2+ in 2012/13 and Thomas Hardye School in Dorset with 2,233 pupils achieved 60% L2+ in the same year. Whitchurch Secondary School which is the largest secondary school in Wales with 2,235 pupils achieved 60% L2+ in 2012/13 and the largest secondary school in the Vale, Stanwell Comprehensive School with 2,006 pupils, achieved 74.5% L2+ that year.  

 

19. In this context it was established that there were potential educational benefits to be gained by the amalgamation of Barry and Bryn Hafren comprehensive schools to create a new mixed comprehensive school.  It was clear that standards at the two schools needed to be further increased, that amalgamated schools in similar circumstances were successful, that a large size was not a driver of low standards and that there was strong support from parents and pupils for the creation of a mixed school through amalgamation.

 

20. It should also be noted that there have been some examples of failed amalgamations from time to time.  Effective leadership and governance is vital to ensure that the benefits are delivered through the development of a strong new ethos and culture for the school and that the risk of failure and a distraction from high quality teaching and learning is minimised.

 

21. It has been concluded that amalgamation to create a mixed comprehensive English-medium school is highly desirable in order to support the raising of educational standards in the town and to respond to the views of parents and pupils to the earlier consultation.  Whilst full transformation could best be delivered by the fully funded implementation of one of the options described below nevertheless, in the event of a funding envelope that did not include a contribution from Welsh Government, there would be a clear benefit of proceeding through amalgamation to the establishment of a new mixed English medium secondary school. In those circumstances the benefits of amalgamation were likely nevertheless to outweigh the disadvantages of  disruption and of the current arrangements and should be considered for implementation.  The options that follow consider the way in which amalgamation to create a mixed comprehensive school can best be delivered

 

Consideration of options

 

22. As outlined in paragraph 7 above there is a forecast increase in pupil numbers seeking a place at Ysgol Bro Morgannwg following increased numbers of primary pupils educated through the medium of Welsh.  By 2020 there will be insufficient capacity at the school to accommodate the numbers of pupils seeking a place.  The following options each consider how the additional capacity required can best be provided bearing in mind the constraints on the current site and the potential costs of expansion on that site.

 

23. The project board developed options for creating a mixed school through amalgamation that would best deliver the key outcomes.  A wide range of options for creating a new mixed sex comprehensive school and different combinations of these options were considered as part of the research phase.  A summary of the seven options considered and their advantages and disadvantages is provided below. With the exception of option G, the estimated capital cost of each option includes work required to each of the three secondary school buildings to address condition and disability access works (paragraph 10) and to bring each school up to a standard fit for the 21st Century as well as the cost of extending Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg. The option of maintaining the status quo is also included below.  For some of the options it would be feasible to implement the scheme at lower cost and without Welsh Government Funding but for others that would not be possible: in all cases full transformational impact of the option on the learning of children and young people would only be gained with the benefit of Welsh Government capital funding

 

Option A: The new English medium school operates as a split site school organised according to key stages and Ysgol Bro Morgannwg is expanded on its current site

 

24. This option mirrors the proposal set out in the consultation document in 2013.  The new English medium school would be legally and operationally one school, with a single identity, integrated operations, leadership and governance. It would operate across the current Bryn Hafren and Barry Comprehensive School sites which would be organised according to key stage, with key stage 3 on one site and key stages 4 and 5 (years 12 and 13) on the other. Students would begin their secondary education in mixed gender groups in year 7 and would remain at that site until they reach the end of key stage 3 at which point they would transfer to the other site.

 

25. Teachers could teach largely on one site in order to avoid disruption and would consequently specialise in the earlier or later key stages. This approach would reduce teacher travel time but could limit continuing professional development opportunities for staff.  Alternatively teachers could move from site to site and so teach across the whole age range although this could be disruptive for teachers and the flow of learning.

 

26. Ysgol Bro Morgannwg would be expanded on its current site although initial feasibility work has highlighted that as a result of the limited grounds available the building would need to be extended upwards at an estimated cost of £12 million.

 

27. The capital cost of option A is estimated at £41.6M, of which £13.3M relates to the Barry Comprehensive School building, £11.3M to the Bryn Hafren building and £17M for extending and carrying out works to the Bro Morgannwg building. A detailed breakdown of the works included in this option and the associated estimated costs is shown in Appendix F. This option would result in additional revenue costs being incurred as a result of operating over a split site. The school would be allocated a split site allowance in the region of £200,000 although it is possible that actual additional costs could exceed this amount. 

 

28. This model was not selected as the preferred model for the following reasons:

• It could cause unnecessary disruption and impedes continuity in learning at the English medium school. There is geographical disruption as learners move to an unfamiliar site and building at the end of key stage 3 and their learning could be disrupted by a new set of teachers, approaches and processes just as they enter the examination phase.  Teachers would either be restricted to teaching only one key stage on one site or would have to travel between the schools.

• This option does not offer a clear, new identity for the new English-medium school.

• This option does not provide a discrete campus for either Welsh-medium or English-medium schools and does not provide further flexibility for the expansion of Welsh-medium education.

 

Option B: The new English-medium school operates as a split site school organised according to pupil houses and Ysgol Bro Morgannwg is expanded on its current site

 

29. The new English medium school would be legally and operationally one school, with a single identity, integrated operations, leadership and governance. The new school would operate across the current Bryn Hafren and Barry Comprehensive School sites but the student body would be organised into four houses, two of which would be based on each site. Students would be based in their houses for academic study and pastoral support enabling them to experience a smaller learning community. Regular "special" activities would take place at which pupils and staff from both sites meet, e.g. sports and cultural events. Students would be randomly allocated to one of four houses on entry in year 7 and remain with this house throughout their school career. Years 12 and 13 would be taught collaboratively outside the house arrangements.

 

30. Teachers at the new school would teach both genders across the full age and ability range within one site and would be attached pastorally and academically to a house. The subject and curriculum arrangements would be planned on a consistent basis across all houses and both sites.

 

31. Ysgol Bro Morgannwg would be expanded on its current site although initial feasibility work has highlighted that as a result of the limited grounds available the building would need to be extended upwards at an estimated cost of £12 million.

 

32. The estimated capital cost for option B is £41.6M with the allocation between the school buildings being the same as for option A (refer to Appendix F for full analysis). Additional revenue funding in the region of £200,000 would be required to fund additional costs arising from the school operating across a split site.

 

33. Whilst the benefits of adopting a house model were recognised, this was not the preferred model for the amalgamated school for the reasons set out below:

• The admission arrangements would ensure a full social mix of students on each site from across the whole catchment area. However, concern was expressed that the two houses located on the Bryn Hafren site could be considered to have lower esteem because of the higher levels of deprivation present in its immediate locality.

• In order to achieve a full social mix, some pupils would have to travel to the site which is geographically furthest from their home.

• People are unfamiliar with this model and it could be considered that it represents too great a departure from the present arrangements. 

• This option does not provide a discrete campus for either Welsh-medium or English-medium schools and does not provide further flexibility for the expansion of Welsh-medium education.

 

Option C: Two separate English medium schools on separate sites and Ysgol Bro Morgannwg is expanded on its current site

 

34. In this option each English medium school would operate entirely independently as a coeducational school with its own identity, leadership, governance and operations. Parents would apply for a place at one of the schools and places would be allocated through the admissions process. This would mean that the school on the site of Barry Comprehensive School would largely serve the west of the town and the school on the site of Bryn Hafren the east. An alternative arrangement would be for one to serve the north of the town and the other to serve the south. This option reflects a model that was developed and rejected in previous years: it could create a lack of parity of esteem between the schools and could risk undermining community cohesion between parts of the town.

 

35. Ysgol Bro Morgannwg would be expanded on its current site although initial feasibility work has highlighted that as a result of the limited grounds available the building would need to be extended upwards at an estimated cost of £12 million.

 

36. The estimated capital cost of option c is £41.6M as for options A and B (refer to Appendix F for full analysis).

 

37. This was the least favoured of the options for the following reasons:

• One English medium school could be perceived as better than the other because of the levels of deprivation in the surrounding area

• It was considered that this option would offer the least likelihood of improvement in standards for learners at the new school. 

• This option does not provide a discrete campus for the Welsh-medium school or one for the English-medium schools.

 

Option D: One English medium school on one site and Ysgol Bro Morgannwg is expanded on the current Bryn Hafren site

 

38. In option D, one site would accommodate the whole new English medium school which would be established as a single legal entity with single governance, leadership, policy, staff, curriculum and operations. Having considered the size of the amalgamated school and the associated land requirements the sites currently occupied by Barry Comprehensive School, Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg and Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Talwg were identified as providing a suitable site for the new English medium campus to accommodate buildings for an upper and lower school.  The new secondary school campus would comprise a lower school which would be located in the current Barry Comprehensive buildings and upper school which would be located in the Bro Morgannwg/Nant Talwg buildings. The upper and lower schools would be linked via a lit pathway. 

 

39. In this option a new Welsh medium campus would be provided for Ysgol Bro Morgannwg and Ysgol Nant Talwg on the current Bryn Hafren site which is larger than the current site and provides space for the expansion of the school to meet forecast demand and to offer future flexibility.  It would avoid the constraints on expansion on the current site and allows the development of a discrete all-age Welsh medium campus assisting the school to immerse pupils in a Welsh-language setting and to further develop a centre of excellence in education through the medium of Welsh.  A new school building would be provided on the site for Ysgol Nant Talwg and Bro Morgannwg would move into the remodelled, extended and improved Bryn Hafren building.

 

40. As the Bryn Hafren building has a larger capacity then the Bro Morgannwg School building the issue of the projected shortage of Welsh medium secondary school places referred to in paragraph 7 of this report would be partially resolved. The Bryn Hafren school building with its capacity of 1,331 can accommodate 180 more pupils than the Bro Morgannwg building which has a capacity of 1,151. By 2020 it would, however, need to be extended by an additional 516 places at an estimated cost of £5.16M to bring it up to the required capacity of 1,847 places. The £5.16M includes the cost of a new building for Nant Talwg (£2.61M), the cost of a new teaching block (£2M) and bus drop off and parking provision (£0.55M).

 

41. This option has the potential to create a transformed English medium school with a strong, single identity and to provide a discrete Welsh medium campus to accommodate expansion. It best meets the Project Board's key outcomes and was identified as the preferred option. It would avoid the difficulties of split site operation for the English medium school in options A and B and the drawback of option C in relation to two new English medium schools. There would be the potential to develop a house model as described in option B and to develop the separate buildings on the new campus to enable pupils to experience a smaller learning community.   It provides the potential to provide an attractive all age campus for Welsh medium learning that can accommodate its forecast growth and provide further flexibility for the future.

 

42. The estimated capital cost of this option is £34.9M, of which £13.3M relates to the current Barry Comprehensive School building, £5.1M to the current Bro Morgannwg and Nant Talwg buildings and £16.5M to the current Bryn Hafren building, new primary school building and new extension.  A breakdown of the work and costs associated with this option is provided in Appendix F.

 

Option E: One English medium school on one site (new build) and Ysgol Bro Morgannwg is expanded on its current site

 

43. An alternative delivery model for accommodating the new mixed sex secondary school on one site without the relocation of Bro Morgannwg and Nant Talwg was given some consideration. This model included building a new multi-storey school on the site currently occupied by Barry Comprehensive School, extending Bro Morgannwg on its current site and carrying out necessary condition and modernisation works. The Bryn Hafren site would be sold for residential development with an estimated site value of £10M. The estimated capital cost of delivering this model is £65M, made up of £58M for the new secondary school, £17M for Bro Morgannwg, partially offset with a capital receipt of £10M from the sale of the Bryn Hafren land (refer to Appendix F for more detail). This model was not researched further as it was considered unaffordable even when the capital receipt is taken into account. There are also significant risks associated with the assumption that the Bryn Hafren land could be sold for residential development and that the valuation amount would be realised.    

 

Option F: Federation of the two English medium schools and Ysgol Bro Morgannwg is expanded on its current site

 

44. Each English medium school would be a mixed sex school as in option C but with a single governing body and Headteacher. Each school would have its own identity, catchment area, operations and budget. School places would be allocated through the admissions process. Teachers would be contracted to work at one of the schools although under federation it is possible to share staff by agreement and adopt other collaborative arrangements. 

 

45. Ysgol Bro Morgannwg would be expanded on its current site although initial feasibility work has highlighted that as a result of the limited grounds available the building would need to be extended upwards at an estimated cost of £12 million.

 

46. This option was discounted for the reasons set out in paragraph 37 above and the following:

• Federation of the English medium schools was considered to be too much of a compromise in relation to leadership. There is a possibility that leadership would not be unified during a period when strong leadership was needed.

• Does not offer a new, clear identity for the English medium school.

 

Option G: Status Quo

 

47. The two single sex schools would continue to operate on their current sites and Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg would expand on its current site. Work to address the condition works (paragraph 7) would be carried out over a number of years where these were prioritised alongside other schools for schools asset renewal funding. There would still be a requirement to expand Welsh medium secondary school places from 2020 and this has been factored into the estimated cost of £19M: initial feasibility work on extending Ysgol Bro Morgannwg on its current site has highlighted that as a result of the limited grounds available the building would need to be extended upwards.  Appendix F provides a breakdown of the work associated with this option and the estimated costs. Whilst this option would be less disruptive than the other options it also provides less potential to deliver the Project Board's key outcomes than the other options. Most respondents to the previous consultation supported the establishment of mixed sex secondary provision by the amalgamation of Barry and Bryn Hafren schools which is not delivered by this option.

 

48. Following an assessment of each option the Board identified option D as the preferred model. The principal advantages of this model; were identified as:

• A clear, separate and new identity for a new flagship English-medium school.

• Provides a larger site for Bro Morgannwg and Nant Talwg enabling remodelling of school buildings to more effectively support the development of 3-19 all through education and the expansion of Welsh medium secondary school places.  The new discrete campus would assist the school to immerse pupils in a Welsh-language setting and to further develop a centre of excellence in education through the medium of Welsh.

• A single, coherent geographical and educational solution for all four schools involved in the change. None of the headteachers interviewed in our research would have chosen a split site alternative above a single site.

• No travel for staff and students between the sites of the English medium school. No interruption at the end of key stage 3. All students join one school at the beginning of their secondary education and complete this on one campus which enables improved progression throughout their secondary career.

• Provides flexibility for any further expansion of Welsh medium provision.

• Ensures the different communities of Barry are accommodated in a single English medium school.

• Single school leadership and governance will favour high school standards at the new English medium school.

• Single, coherent curriculum for the new English medium school.  Students have access to a potentially increased range of curricular opportunities as a result of the amalgamated school with staff and resources on one campus.

• Ensures staff at the new English medium school can continue to teach across the full age range addressing concerns raised in response to the initial consultation about the potential impact of the split site model on continuing professional development opportunities.

• A cost effective solution that enhances English and Welsh medium secondary education.

• The new English medium school would be well placed to develop a partnering arrangement, for example with a higher education institution if an appropriate partner was identified.

 

49. The principal disadvantages of the preferred model include:

• The creation of a very large English medium school which will require excellent leadership.

• The relocation of four schools which will require careful planning to minimise disruption and the potential impact on learning.

• It is reliant on Welsh Government capital funding.

 

Transition arrangements

 

50. As set out in paragraph 15 of this report, clear outcomes were established for the amalgamation of the English medium school which included excellent standards for all students and a popular school with a strong identity and innovative learning. Given these outcomes, particularly those of raising standards and expectations, the Project Board considered it important to amalgamate the single sex schools as soon as practicable. Given that the favoured option requires significant investment it would not be possible to commence the main programme of required building works until new Welsh Government grant funding becomes available through Band B of the 21st Century Schools Programme which is scheduled to start in 2019. This would result in the amalgamation of the two schools on a single site being delayed until September 2020 which would mean that the children of many of the parents consulted would have no prospect of coeducation before leaving the secondary phase. Furthermore, the Project Board was mindful of the urgency to raise standards at Barry and Bryn Hafren schools and therefore explored every opportunity to integrate learners sooner.

 

51. A transition towards full integration of the single sex schools was developed with clear milestones and was considered to offer a way forward with pupils joining the school, entering the sixth form or embarking on GCSE courses being the first to benefit from coeducational learning. Whilst the details of some of the arrangements would require further consideration by the new Governing Body this was likely to include:

• Formal amalgamation from September 2017 on separate sites with a single governing body and Headteacher.

• A fully integrated 6th form from September 2017 based at the Barry Comprehensive school site.

• A fully integrated year 7 from September 2017 based at the Bryn Hafren Comprehensive School site.

• A fully integrated year 10 from September 2017 based at the Barry Comprehensive School site.

• From September 2018, fully integrated years 7 and 8 based at the Bryn Hafren Comprehensive School site and years 10 and 11 based at the Barry Comprehensive School site.

• From September 2019, fully integrated years 7, 8 and 9 based at the Bryn Hafren Comprehensive School site and years 10 and 11 based at the Barry Comprehensive School site.

• Provided that funding had been secured from Welsh Government, from September 2020, all integrated year groups to be located on one site. 

 

52. Existing students would continue to be taught in single sex groups in most subjects until they start secondary school, embark on a GCSE course or join the sixth form. For example, from September 2017, years 8, 9 and 11 would be taught as single sex groups at their current school sites and by the following September only year 9 would continue to be taught in single year groups.

 

53. In September 2020 subject to Welsh Government funding having been made available, the students of Ysgol Bro Morgannwg and Ysgol Nant Talwg would move to remodelled and extended accommodation, including new primary accommodation, on the Bryn Hafren site and the students of the amalgamated English medium school would move into the remodelled accommodation on the Barry Comprehensive and Bro Morgannwg/Nant Talwg site.

 

54. To facilitate transformation investment in the region of £35.650M would be made across all sites to ensure that all pupils have access to educational facilities which are fit for the 21st century. An amount of £750k would be made available in 2016/17 to address essential requirements required for coeducational provision at the Barry and Bryn Hafren buildings. The remaining £34.8M would be required from 2019 onwards to carry the condition works detailed in paragraph 10, modernisation and expansion work and provision of a new primary school building for Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Talwg. A full break down of the work which would be carried out and the estimated costs is shown in Appendix F. In the event that Welsh Government capital funding was not available investment would be made to expand Ysgol Bro Morgannwg on its current site and to address condition issues at Barry Comprehensive and Bryn Hafren schools.

 

Statutory Process

 

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

 

56. 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 would be held during the consultation period to provide additional information as requested and would include meetings with parents, pupil representatives, governing bodies and staff of the relevant schools.

 

57. Within three months of the closing date for the consultation period a consultation report would be published including a summary of comments received and the Council's response to these comments.

 

58. The Council must then decide whether or not to proceed with the proposal within six months of the end of the consultation period. If following the consultation process the Council decides that the amalgamation of Barry Comprehensive School and Bryn Hafren Comprehensive School is to be progressed a statutory notice would 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.

 

59. In addition to the amalgamation proposal, statutory notices would be required for the transfer of Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg and Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Talwg to the Bryn Hafren School site and for an increase in the capacity of Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg from 1,151 to 1,847 places to meet future pupil demand. A statutory notice is not required for the phased relocation of pupils onto one site resulting from the amalgamation proposal. 

 

60. If objections were 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.

 

61. Appendix G sets out the anticipated timescale for this process if approved by Cabinet.

 

62. To enable effective engagement and communication with the schools directly affected by this proposal it is suggested that a Barry Secondary School Transformation Board is established. Membership of the Board would include the Chair of Governors and the Headteacher of Barry Comprehensive School, Bryn Hafren Comprehensive School and Bro Morgannwg/Nant Talwg and two primary headteachers. The Cabinet Member for Children's Services and Schools, the chair of the Lifelong Learning Scrutiny Committee and senior officers from the Learning and Skills Directorate would also be members of the Board.

 

63. The proposals have a number of wider ranging implications which naturally arise in these circumstances, including for example, staffing and property issues.  Appropriate support in relation to these implications is being drawn and will continue to be drawn from the Council's corporate functions as and when necessary.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

64. A summary of the estimated capital cost of each option is provided below with a full breakdown included in Appendix F.

Option A: New English-medium school operating across a split site organised according to key stages: £ 41.6M

Option B: New English-medium school operating across a split site organised according to pupil houses and Ysgol Bro Morgannwg is expanded on its current site: £41.6M

Option C: Two separate English-medium schools on separate sites and Ysgol Bro Morgannwg is expanded on its current site: £41.6M

Option D: One English-medium school on one site and Ysgol Bro Morgannwg is expanded on the current Bryn Hafren site (the preferred option): £34.9M

Option E: New build English-medium school on one school on one site and Ysgol Bro Morgannwg is expanded on its current site: £65M    

Option F: Two English-medium schools on separate sites which are federated and Ysgol Bro Morgannwg is expanded on its current site:£41.6M

Option G: The status quo and Ysgol Bro Morgannwg is expanded on its current site: £19M

 

65. Additional recurring revenue costs in the region of £250,000 would be incurred for options A and B as a result of the English-medium school operating over a split site. These costs would also be incurred under option D although this would be limited to a period of three years.

 

66. In the event the proposal to amalgamate Bryn Hafren and Barry Comprehensive Schools is approved in December 2015, a temporary governing body for the new school will be established with its first task being the appointment of a new Headteacher who would work with the governing body to develop proposals further in advance of the amalgamation in September 2017. This would include work on development of the staffing structure for the new school which would be subject to full consultation with staff and the relevant Trades Unions. Funding for the new Headteacher post prior to the amalgamation of the schools would be met from the Schools Rationalisation Reserve.

 

67. Amalgamating Barry and Bryn Hafren Comprehensive Schools could potentially result in efficiencies although this would be difficult to achieve whilst the school is operating over a split site. The school would be allocated a split site allowance from September 2017 to meet the additional costs associated with this operational model which would be removed in the event of the school being situated on one site in 2020. The additional revenue funding required for the split site allowance would be met from within the overall Education budget. Efficiencies generated as a result of the amalgamation should be directed towards improving outcomes for pupils attending the school. Additional revenue costs of an expanded Bro Morgannwg would be met through the School Funding Formula. An overall increase in pupil numbers across the Vale would result in increased Revenue Support Grant from the Welsh Government.

 

68. It is estimated that capital investment of £35.650M will be required to implement the preferred option. £0.75M would be allocated in 2016/17 to address essential requirements required for coeducational provision at the Barry and Bryn Hafren buildings with a further £34.9M investment from 2019 to address the condition and suitability of all relevant buildings, to provide a new building for Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Talwg on the Bryn Hafren site and to expand the capacity of Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg. It is possible that some condition issues will need to be addressed before 2019 and these would be prioritised alongside all Vale schools for funding from the annual Asset Renewal Fund.

 

69. Initial information suggests that 50% of the funding required from 2019 onwards will be met from Welsh Government grant as part of Band B of its 21st Century Schools initiative which it has recently announced will commence in 2019. It is important to emphasise that at this time there is no certainty about the availability of this funding: the Council would expect to bid for any funding that is made available in due course by Welsh Government but there would be no certainty about securing the funding.  Capital funding for the initial work in 2016/17 as well as the Council's match funding for the Band B schemes is included in the Councils draft Capital Programme. Whilst the decision regarding re-organisation of the schools can be made by Cabinet, the funding for the schemes must be approved by Full Council.

 

70. In the event that Welsh Government capital funding was not available, the priority for expenditure would be work to address condition issues at the amalgamated secondary school on two sites and the expansion of Ysgol Bro Morgannwg on its current site.

 

71. It should also be noted that the timescale for progressing the transformation programme extends into the period of local government reorganisation announced by Welsh Government.  This represents a further risk to the deliverability of the transformation programme.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

72. Establishment of a coeducational secondary school on a single campus offers a more efficient and sustainable model of delivery in the medium to long-term. The option identified to address the projected shortage of places in the Welsh medium secondary sector is more financially viable than expansion of the Bro Morgannwg building on the current site. Popular secondary schools can help to reduce travel to school journeys. The new and refurbished buildings will meet modern building standards to reduce carbon emissions.  

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

73. 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. Section 48 of the 2013, Act requires that before School Organisation proposals are published they must be first subject to consultation.

 

74. If, following the consultation process and the consideration of the responses a decision is made to proceed the requirements of the School Standards and Reorganisation Act 2013 and the School Organisation Code Statutory Document Number: 006/2013 will need to be complied with.

 

75. These proposals will also lead to other implications which will include, for example, employment law, contract law and property law.  Advice in relation to these matters is being taken and will continue to be taken from the Council's legal advisers as appropriate.

Crime and Disorder Implications

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

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

77. A key driver to all school reorganisation proposals is to improve 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. The scheme has the potential to ensure that pupils of both sexes have access to a very broad curriculum. The extended premises for Ysgol Bro Morgannwg will increase the opportunities for learning through the medium of Welsh. The new school buildings will be fully DDA compliant.

 

78. During the consultation period an Equalities Impact Assessment will be compiled which will be made available to Cabinet for consideration prior to a decision being made on whether to progress to the next stage of the statutory process.

Corporate/Service Objectives

79. The amalgamation and relocation of Barry and Bryn Hafren Comprehensive Schools and the relocation of Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg and Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Talwg,  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.

 

80. 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

81. This is a matter for Executive decision.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

82. Public consultation with all interested parties and staff will be carried out in accordance with legislation.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

83. Lifelong Learning and Corporate Resources.

Background Papers

None

Contact Officer

Paula Ham, Head of Strategy, Community Learning and Resources

Officers Consulted

Head of School Improvement and Inclusion

Principal Schools Planning Officer

Operational Manager - Property

Principal Finance Officer

Operational Manager - Legal

Operational Manager - Human Resources

Operational Manager - Finance

Responsible Officer:

Jennifer Hill

Director of Learning and Skills

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