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The Vale of Glamorgan Council

Cabinet Meeting: 27 July, 2015

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

Proposal to change the character of Gwenfo Church in Wales Primary School to a 3 - 11 years school, by creating a nursery unit within the school

Purpose of the Report

1.    To seek Cabinet approval to consult stakeholders on a proposal to open a nursery unit at Gwenfo Church in Wales (CiW) Primary School from September 2016.

Recommendations

1.    Cabinet authorises consultation from 14 September 2015 for a period of seven weeks on a proposal to create a 48 part time place nursery class at Gwenfo Church in Wales Primary School.

 

2.    Cabinet refers this report to the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) for consideration.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.    To enable Council to consult on the proposal to create a new 48 part time place nursery unit at the school and extend the age range of the school to a 3 to 11 age primary school from 01 September 2016.  

 

2.    To ensure that the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) is aware of progress with school reorganisation and is consulted on proposals.

Background

2.    Nursery provision in the Gwenfo area is currently provided by Gwenfo playgroup, a private provider registered by the Early Years Development and Childcare Partnership.

 

3.    On 03 February 2015, the Chair of Governors and head teacher of Gwenfo CiW Primary School and the Chair of the management committee and playgroup leader of Gwenfo Playgroup met with officers from the Learning and Skills Directorate and requested that the school be supported to open a nursery class, thus extending the age range of pupils from 4 to 11 years to 3 to 11 years.

 

4.    On 10 February 2015 a letter was received from the head teacher of Gwenfo CiW Primary School asking that the Directorate support the establishment of a nursery class at the school.

 

5.    On 24 February 2015 a letter was received from the chair of the management committee and the leader of the Gwenfo Playgroup requesting that there be a change of provision within the playgroup and that statutory foundation phase provision be made by Gwenfo CiW Primary school.  

 

6.    To make changes of this nature, a statutory process will need to be undertaken including consultation with stakeholders.  As the school is a Church in Wales voluntary controlled school, this process would need to be undertaken by the Council, although it is at the request of the school's Governing Body and the Gwenfo Playgroup.  

 

7.    The school wishes to open a 48 part time place nursery class to extend the foundation phase curriculum currently offered within the school.  Current provision for nursery education is provided through the Gwenfo playgroup.

 

8.    The playgroup at Gwenfo offers sessions for children age 2 years 6 months to 4 years 11 months.  The current provision is for 30 children, with 16 children currently on their register, 9 of these children are eligible for foundation phase support from the Council.  The playgroup is open for 5 morning sessions per week providing 2.5 hours care per session.

Relevant Issues and Options

9.    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.

 

10.    The school and the playgroup are situated in close proximity to each other on adjoining sites off Old Port Road, Gwenfo.  The playgroup is housed within the village hall which is located on the road adjacent to the school.  Gwenfo CiW Primary School currently provides for the 4 to 11 age range and has a capacity of 175.  The number on roll in January 2015 was 179.   

 

11.    There will be two new housing developments built in close proximity to the school on Port Road and the former ITV site at Culverhouse Cross.  The expected additional demand arising from both developments is 36 nursery age children and 101 primary school aged children.  There is no requirement to make additional provision for Welsh medium primary education as there are sufficient places available at Ysgol Gwaun Y Nant, the Welsh medium catchment school, to cater for demand from both developments.

 

12.    Consultation has taken place with the playgroup leader to assess the impact of extending provision in the primary school on the playgroup. With the number of nursery age children expected across the two developments, the playgroup would be required to extend its sessions to include afternoon sessions.  The playgroup leader and her management board do not feel that they can make such provision and therefore fully support the proposal to provide a nursery class within Gwenfo CiW Primary school.

 

13.    The playgroup would continue to play a role within the community of Gwenfo.  It is planning to continue to make provision for children, between the ages of 2 and 3 prior to entry into nursery, and to provide wrap around care for children attending the school nursery.  This proposal will support the financial sustainability of the playgroup and provide employment and funding for the community through the use of village facilities.

 

14.    The establishment of a nursery class within the primary school offers a more efficient and sustainable model of delivery of the foundation phase for those children attending the school.

 

15.    There are a number of benefits associated with moving from establishing a nursery class.  These include:

  • Development of a common process of tracking, monitoring and intervention from nursery through to year 2 and beyond;
  • Having a single vision in leading and managing the school from nursery to year six to further enhance the capacity of the school to improve.

16.    The school underwent an Estyn inspection in 2010. The report concluded that the majority of teaching in the foundation phase was of a Grade 1 standard, and that "the overall trend for improvement was positive since the last inspection in 2005".  The report also stated that in the foundation phase the children "make good progress and are very well prepared for the next phase of their education".  The school was categorised as Amber in 2014.

 

17.    The local authority wrote to the playgroup in the summer term of 2014 expressing concerns about safeguarding of children and the playgroup's behaviour policy as well as concerns around staff relations.  The playgroup was put on a Stage 2 performance management action plan to improve standards which it successfully completed on 10 November 2014.

Statutory Process

18.    The Welsh Government issued a School Organisation Code in 2013 that came into effect from the 1st October 2013. The local authority must “act in accordance with the Code” as determined by the School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Act 2013.

 

19.    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.

 

20.    The 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 will 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 school and playgroup.

 

21.    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.

 

22.    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 extension in age range and the establishment of a Nursery unit at Gwenfo CiW Primary 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 must include 15 school days (in addition to the day on which it is published).

 

23.    If objections are 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. Under the legislation as the proposal does not relate to 6th form education the Local Authority can determine the proposal if objections are received.

 

24.    Appendix A sets out the anticipated timescale for this process if approved by Cabinet.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

25.    Capital funding for the build of the new nursery will be required.  In consultation with the school, a design for a nursery unit and an extension to two class spaces has been developed in consultation with Property Services with an estimated cost of £535,000.  

 

26.    It will be recommended through consultation with the relevant Cabinet Member and local member that £493,379 funding would be provided through S106 contributions that are attached to the Redrow Development on Port Road, Gwenfo.  The site is already being developed and 50% (£246,689) of the Section 106 contribution will be released on the occupation of the first dwelling.  The contribution is anticipated to be received by the Council before the end of July 2015, although this is dependent on the build rate of the developer.  The final 50% contribution will be released on the occupation of the 70th dwelling.  It is anticipated that this will be available by the winter of 2016.  

 

27.    A further contribution to the outline costs of the build will be recommended to be sought from the S106 contribution negotiated with Bellway Homes, the developers of the former ITV site at Culverhouse Cross. The total education contribution negotiated for this site is £749,237.44.  A contribution of £74,000 is available on commencement on the site and it is confirmed that work has now commenced.  It will be recommended through consultation with the relevant Cabinet Member and the local member that the shortfall of the project costs for the scheme should be met from this S106 contribution.  

 

28.    The total contribution for both sites will be £567,379 for this project.  It is recognised that there may be some school transportation costs aligned to these developments in the short term and therefore £32,379 of the total contribution from the Port Road development has been allocated for potential costs of providing school transport.

 

29.    Additional revenue funding of £68,665 is required to meet the operational costs of the nursery due to an increase in pupil numbers attracting the Age Weighted Pupil Unit (AWPU) funding.  This would be found from within the overall schools budget and from additional Education Improvement Grant due to additional pupil numbers.  An overall increase in the number of pupils across the Vale of Glamorgan would result in increased funding for education from Welsh Government through the revenue settlement.  

 

30.    The governing body are responsible for determining staffing levels at schools. The number of teaching staff and learning support assistants is expected to increase for the nursery class only in response to guidelines for teaching support.    

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

31.    Establishment of a 3 - 11 year old phase primary school offers a more efficient and sustainable model of delivery.  By working in partnership with the local playgroup it also ensures a mixed economy of provision and sustainability of employment within the community.  

 

32.    Subject to Cabinet approval of this proposal in due course, it is anticipated that the new nursery class will open in September 2016.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

33.    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.

 

34.    If following the consultation process and the consideration of responses a decision is made to proceed to a statutory notice to extend the age range of Gwenfo CiW Primary School and the establishment of a nursery class.  The notice 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.

Crime and Disorder Implications

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

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

36.    A key criterion for all school organisation proposals is to improve educational outcomes for all children and young people in all phases and to help to narrow the inequalities in achievement between advantaged and disadvantaged groups and individuals.

 

37.    The Council has to satisfy its public sector duties under the Equalities Act 2010 (including specific Welsh public sector duties).  Pursuant to these legal duties Councils must in making decisions have due regard to the need to (1) eliminate unlawful discrimination, (2) advance equality of opportunity and (3) foster good relations on the basis of protected characteristics

 

38.    Protected characteristics include:

Age

Gender reassignment

Sex

Race - including ethic or national origin, colour or nationality

Disability

Sexual orientation

Religion or belief - including lack of belief

 

39.    A full Equality Impact Assessment will be developed as part of the consultation exercise and will be included within the consultation report.

 

40.    The proposed changes will not alter the religious character of the school in compliance with Schools Standards and Organisation (Wales) Act 2013 and the School Organisation Code, Statutory Code Document no. 006/2013.

Corporate/Service Objectives

41.    The extension of age range and the establishment of a nursery class at the school 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.

 

42.    The proposal detailed in this report contributes towards service objective 2 of the Learning and Skills Directorate Service Plan 2015/16: to meet the needs of all learners by providing a range of suitable and accessible learning opportunities and facilities'.

Policy Framework and Budget

43.    This report is a matter for Executive decision.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

44.    Ward Member consultation for the usage of Section 106 contributions from both developments is being undertaken by the Planning department.

 

45.    Public consultation with all interested parties will be carried out in accordance with legislation, following the statutory processes set out in the School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Act 2013.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

46.    Lifelong Learning.

Background Papers

None.

Contact Officer

Anne Brown - School Organisation Manager

Officers Consulted

Paula Ham         Head of Strategy, Community Learning and Resources

Mark Haynes        School Planning and Buildings Manager

Mike Matthews    Principal Strategic Planning Officer - Learning and Skills

Carolyn Michael    Operational Manager, Finance

Victoria Robinson    Section 106 Officer

Mike Walsh         Principal Lawyer

Responsible Officer:

Jennifer Hill        Director of Learning and Skills

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