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The Vale of Glamorgan Council

Cabinet Meeting: 29 June, 2015

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

Request to use the Project Fund to construct a new reception and expand 6th form provision at Cowbridge Comprehensive School

Purpose of the Report

1.    To gain Cabinet approval for the use of funding from the Project Fund to construct a new reception at Cowbridge Comprehensive School to improve pupil safeguarding on site and to expand 6th form provision.

Recommendations

1.    That Cabinet approve the use of £300,000 from the Project Fund to construct a new reception at Cowbridge Comprehensive School and expand 6th form provision, with repayment of this sum by the school over a 6 year period and to refer the report to a special meeting of the Council before the recess for approval.

 

2.    That Cabinet authorises the use of article 13.09 of the Council's Constitution (urgent decision procedure) to present the report to a special meeting of Council before the recess and in sufficient time to enable the works to be undertaken during the 2015 school summer holidays.

 

3.    That the use of article 13.09 in recommendation 1 and 2 above be reported to Council in line with article 13.09 (c) of the Council's Constitution.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.    To allow the construction of a new reception to improve pupil safeguarding on the school site by directing visitors away from the main pupil areas as well as meeting increasing demand for 6th form education at the school.

 

2.    To amend the Capital Programme pursuant to article 13.09 of the Council's Constitution, in sufficient time to enable the works to be undertaken during the 2015 school summer holidays.

 

3.    To comply with the Council's Constitution.

Background

2.    The new Cowbridge Comprehensive School opened in September 2010. Following close collaboration with the previous Head Teacher it was agreed that the school should have an open design. The reception is located in the main teaching block at the rear of the site and is accessed across an open plaza used by staff and children during breaks and lesson changes. In addition, once access is gained to the visitor's car park individuals can access all areas of the school site without having to report to reception.

 

3.    The school have reported a number of incidents where parents have entered the site resulting in potential safeguarding issues.

 

4.    The child safeguarding issues resulting from this open design were raised during the latest Estyn inspection of the school. The school's existing procedures are currently managing the risks as far as practicable but physical alterations to the buildings are required to reduce these safeguarding risks to an acceptable level.

 

5.    6th form numbers at Cowbridge Comprehensive have increased from 312 in September 2013 to 360 in September 2014 and are projected to be 406 in September 2015. Due to increasing numbers of 6th form pupils there are inadequate study areas in the school resulting in some pupils leaving site between lessons with the potential for a detrimental impact on their learning opportunities.

Relevant Issues and Options

6.    Following a full assessment of the existing site layout and child safeguarding issues the school has appointed an architect to design a new reception block and extend the 6th form study area. These designs received planning consent in March 2015. The estimated cost of the proposal is £300,000.

 

7.    The school has already relocated the visitors' car park and the new reception will be adjacent to this. Through this relocation of the reception area it will easier to monitor visitors access to the school site and remove the uncontrolled access for visitors through the plaza used by children during the day.

 

8.    The additional 6th form study area will provide a flexible space for pupils allowing them to stay on site during the day and it is anticipated that learning outcomes will improve.

 

9.    Cabinet is being requested to approve the use of £300,000 from the Project Fund in 2015/16 to fund the new reception block and increase the 6th form study areas. Cowbridge Comprehensive School has confirmed that £50,000 per annum will be repaid into the Project Fund.

 

10.    If funding is approved, the building work would be carried out during the 2015 summer holidays.  As Council approval is required to include this scheme in the Capital Programme, Cabinet is being asked to authorise the use of article 13.09 of the Council's Constitution (urgent decision procedure) to enable works to proceed immediately.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

11.    The estimated cost of the proposed new reception block is £300,000. Neither the Council, through the Education Capital Programme, nor Cowbridge Comprehensive School have funding available for these works. The school has submitted a Capital Loan Scheme application to fund the project, however, these works cannot be accommodated through this scheme as the entire budget for 2015/16 is £300,000. If this application were approved no funding would be available to support capital projects at other schools.

 

12.    In order to progress the scheme, the use of £300,000 is being requested from the Project Fund in 2015/16, which will be repaid by the school over a six year period.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

13.    The new extension will be constructed in a sustainable manner in order to minimise its impact on the environment.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

14.    Planning consent was received for the new extension in March 2015.

Crime and Disorder Implications

15.    The proposed re-location of the reception will direct visitors away from the central plaza area in front of the school which is used by children and staff during break times. This will reduce the potential risk of public order incidents involving visitors, children and staff which has previously resulted in police involvement.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

16.    There are no equal opportunities implications arising from this matter.

Corporate/Service Objectives

17.    The safety and security of children while at school (Safeguarding) is a high priority of the Learning and Skills Directorate and is assessed during Estyn inspections of schools.

Policy Framework and Budget

18.    This report is following the procedure laid down in the Constitution and needs to be referred to Council to make the final decision.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

19.    Ward members support the proposal in principle.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

20.    Learning and Skills and Corporate Resources

Background Papers

None

Contact Officer

Mark Haynes, School Planning and Buildings Manager

Officers Consulted

Paula Ham        Head of Strategy, Community Learning & Resources

Carolyn Michael    Operational Manager, Accountancy

Mike Walsh        Principal Lawyer

Nicola Monckton    Finance Manager, Learning and Skills

Responsible Officer:

Jenifer Hill        Director of Learning and Skills