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Agenda Item No.

 

 

THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL

 

CABINET: 13TH APRIL, 2015

 

REFERENCE FROM SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (CORPORATE RESOURCES): 17TH MARCH, 2015

 

 

BARRY SECONDARY SCHOOL TRANSFORMATION (REF) –

 

The above matter had been previously considered by the Cabinet at its meeting on 23rd February 2015.  At that time Cabinet approval had been sought to consult stakeholders on a proposal to transform secondary education in Barry, by establishing a new mixed English medium comprehensive school, by expanding Ysgol Bro Morgannwg and by relocation to create two distinct campuses for Welsh medium and English medium education. 

 

The establishment of mixed sex secondary provision in Barry had been debated intermittently over a number of years with interest having increased in recent years to the extent that following a Cabinet decision on 15th July 2013, public consultation had been undertaken to establish the extent of local support for the principle of co-education in Barry.  That consultation had sought to establish local views about the establishment of a co-educational school formed by the amalgamation of Barry and Bryn Hafren Comprehensive Schools which would operate on the two current sites.  In total 951 people had 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 was strongly held;

·            The social and well-being benefits for learners were the key factors driving the

·            response;

·            75% of secondary school pupil respondents supported a change; and 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.

 

Following consideration of the responses, Cabinet had instructed officers to begin a programme of work to develop detailed proposals for a change to co-educational secondary schooling and that the detailed proposals should address the concerns raised by the parents and members of school staff who felt they would not support a change.  Cabinet also established at the time a Project Board to progress the work required to develop detailed proposals for an amalgamation. 

 

With regard to Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Talwg and Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg, the Council had recently consulted on a proposal to amalgamate the schools to create a new all through school from September 2015, and following that consultation a statutory notice had been published on 6th January, 2015 to amalgamate those schools. 

 

With regard to the capacity of Barry, Bryn Hafren and Bro Morgannwg schools, the numbers on rolls at the Pupil Level Annual Schools Survey (PLASC) 2014, as well as projected pupil numbers, were shown at Appendix A to the report.  The number on roll at Barry Comprehensive in January 2014 was 1,062 which included a sixth form of 197 pupils compared to a current capacity of 1,423.  The number on roll at Bryn Hafren Comprehensive was 1,106 including a sixth form of 256 compared to a capacity of 1,331.  Projections also showed a shortage of places in the Welsh medium secondary sector from 2020 onwards which had also been reported to Cabinet on 10th March, 2014 and at that time Cabinet had authorised a feasibility study to investigate how the required expansion of Welsh medium secondary education could be accommodated.

 

Property condition surveys had also been carried out for all Vale schools with the inspections comprising a visual assessment of the condition of all exposed parts of the buildings to identify significant defects and items of disrepair. 

 

With regard to pupil attainment and school improvement, the Council had 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 had been improvement in some areas by these schools, performance on key measures in Key Stage 4 in particular, remained poor when compared to similar schools.  Appendix C to the report showed the outcomes for the three schools against the key measures over a period of four years as well as the quartile ranking when compared to similar schools.

 

The report also outlined that as part of the work carried out by the Project Board to further develop proposals, research had been carried out on amalgamations and split site education which had included desk top analysis as well as telephone and face to face interviews with leaders involved in recent, mixed gender amalgamations and split-site schools.  Examples had been sought which matched as closely as possible the demographic, social and educational context of Barry and Bryn Hafren Comprehensive Schools. 

 

In order to amalgamate the two schools the Council would need to comply with the statutory process within the School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Act 2013 and the report detailed the process that was required to be undertaken.  To aid effective engagement and communication with the schools directly affected by the proposals, it had been suggested that a Barry Secondary School Transformation Board be established.  The membership of the Board to 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 Chairman of Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) and senior officers from the Learning and Skills Directorate would also be members of the Board.

 

In response to a question from a Committee Member regarding the appropriate undertaking of risk assessment of the project, the Head of Strategy, Community Learning and Resources indicated that a financial risk assessment would be considered very carefully, including the ability of the Council to realise its financial contribution to fund the initiative.  Dependant on the outcome of the Cabinet’s future deliberations post consultation and subsequent decision to proceed with the project, the necessary risk assessment would be undertaken.  Members of the Committee considered that as the project stages progressed it should receive timely reports to enable it to keep abreast of developments, including project risk assessments.

 

Having regard to the above, it was

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the Cabinet be requested that it ensures that officers submit timely reports to the Scrutiny Committee to enable it to keep abreast of developments, including project risk assessments.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To monitor potential risks to the Council.