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The Vale of Glamorgan Council

Cabinet Meeting: 5 October 2015

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

Proposal to transform secondary education in Barry

Purpose of the Report

1.    To advise Cabinet of the outcome of the recent consultation exercise undertaken 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.

 

2.    To make recommendations for further work to be undertaken to develop alternative proposals to replace single sex secondary school education in Barry and to expand the number of Welsh medium secondary school places.

 

3.    To seek approval to develop a programme of works for Barry Comprehensive School to address condition issues and make improvements to the learning environment of the school in the short term.

Recommendations

1.    That Cabinet notes the findings of the consultation exercise on the proposals to transform secondary education in Barry.

 

2.    Cabinet agrees not to publish a statutory public notice but instead refer the proposal back to a new Barry Secondary School Transformation Board as set out in paragraph 27, with the aim of considering further proposals, having particular regard to principles contained within option 3, as outlined in the consultation document, for further consideration by Cabinet at a later date.

 

3.    That in pursuance of recommendation 2, delegated authority be given to the Director of Learning and Skills in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Children's Services and Schools to establish a new Barry Secondary School Transformation Board.

 

4.    Cabinet authorises the development of a programme of work for Barry Comprehensive School to enable improvements to be made to the learning environment in the short term and that a further report on the proposed programme and estimated funding requirements is presented to Cabinet for further consideration in due course.

 

5.    Cabinet refers this report to the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) for information.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.    To ensure that the responses of the prescribed consultees are taken into account as part of the decision making process.

 

2.    To not move to the stage of publication of a statutory notice as the proposal for transforming secondary education needs to be reconsidered in light of the responses from prescribed consultees as outlined in the consultation report and to consider a further proposal.

 

3.    To allow the consideration of further proposals in line with recommendation 2.

 

4.    To address high priority building condition issues and to support implementation of the school's Post Inspection Action Plan.

 

5.    The Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) is aware of the outcome of consultation and of the intention to develop alternative proposals.

Background

4.    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 Gymraeg Bro Morgannwg for boys and girls aged 3-18 years taught in the Welsh language. Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Talwg amalgamated with Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg on 01 September 2015.

5.    The consultation undertaken and this report, does not include any proposals affecting St Richard Gwyn Roman Catholic comprehensive school.

 

6.    A consultation to establish the extent of local support for the principle of coeducation was undertaken in 2013.  Cabinet considered the response to that consultation at its meeting on 16 December 2013 (Cabinet Minute C2124).  In response to this consultation, Cabinet resolved to establish a Project Board to begin a programme of work to develop detailed proposals for a change to coeducational secondary schooling in Barry.  The Project Board developed a proposal, which also included the expansion of Welsh medium secondary education.  This was presented to Cabinet for consideration on 23 February 2015.

 

7.    As a consequence and following due consideration, Cabinet  resolved  that a consultation would take place from 11 May, 2015 for a period of 8 weeks to assess the level of support for the proposals to transform secondary education in Barry as outlined above (Cabinet Minute C2662).  The consultation exercise followed the requirements of the School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Act 2013 and School Organisation Code 2013.  The report was also referred to Scrutiny Committees (Corporate Resources and Lifelong Learning) for consideration as part of the consultation process.


8.    In accordance with the statutory process outlined in the School Organisation Code 2013, a consultation report must be published within 13 weeks of the end of the period allowed for response 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.

 

9.    The publication of the consultation report must take place before any proposal is published.

Relevant Issues and Options

10.    The Welsh Government issued a School Organisation Code in 2013 that came into effect from 1 October 2013.  The Local Authority must act in accordance with the Code as determined by the School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Act 2013.

 

11.    Section 48 of the 2013 Act requires that before any school organisation proposals are published that they must be subject to consultation.  A consultation document must be published and provided to prescribed consultees and Welsh Ministers.  The consultation document in question is attached at Appendix A.

 

12.    Consultation was undertaken between 11 May and 6 July 2015. Consultees were issued with a hard copy of the document which was also published on the Council's website.  There was extensive social media coverage of the consultation.

 

13.    Meetings were held with staff and governors at each of the 3 secondary schools and the primary schools included in the proposal.  Drop in sessions were held on 2, 3 and 10 June 2015.  

 

14.    Appropriate consultation has taken place with prescribed consultees, young people of the four schools (Barry Comprehensive, Bryn Hafren, Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg and Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Talwg) affected by the proposal and with children attending the feeder primary schools linked to the English and Welsh medium secondary schools in Barry.

 

15.    Age appropriate consultation workshops were undertaken with 497 children from the English and Welsh medium feeder primary schools.  Consultation sessions were undertaken with the school council of Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg and Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Talwg and the school parliaments of Barry and Bryn Hafren Comprehensive Schools.  Drop in sessions with council officers were also provided for pupils of the three secondary schools.  Workshops were held with the Vale of Glamorgan Youth Forum and the Vale of Glamorgan Youth Cabinet.

 

16.    The Authority received 604 individual responses on the official response form by the closing date.  The Authority also received 15 responses from consultees not using the official response form.  The Authority received responses from the 3 governing bodies of the 4 schools included in the proposal.  The Authority received 753 individual responses through the young people's response form.  A petition signed by 60 pupils attending Bryn Hafren Comprehensive School was also received.

 

17.    The consultation asked consultees to respond to four questions:

i. Do you support the proposal to create a new mixed comprehensive community school through the amalgamation of Barry and Bryn Hafren comprehensive schools from September 2017?
ii. Do you support the proposal to expand Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg to meet the increased demand for places?
iii. Do you support the proposal, subject to funding, to relocate Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg and Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Talwg to the current site of Bryn Hafren comprehensive school and the new mixed-sex comprehensive school to the current site of Barry comprehensive school, Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg and Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Talwg?
iv. Would your response to questions 1 and/or 2 change if funding was not available to create the two school campuses as described under question 3?

 

18.    Of the 596 individual responses to question 1, 429 (72%) were opposed and 167 (28%) were in favour.  Of the 590 individual responses to question 2, 299 (50.7%) were in support and 291 (49.3%) were opposed.  Of the 595 individual responses to question 3, 488 (82%) were opposed and 107 (18%) were in favour.  Of the 583 individual responses to question 4, 503 (86.3%) said their view would not change and 80 (13.7%) said that their view would change.

 

19.    Of the 696 young people's individual responses to the proposal to create a new mixed sex community comprehensive school 422 (60.6%) were opposed, 173 (24.9%) were in favour and 101 (14.5%) did not know.  Of the 685 young people's individual responses to the proposal to host the new mixed English medium comprehensive school on the current site of Barry Comprehensive School, Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg and Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Talwg, 477 (69.9%) were opposed, 101 (14.7%) were in favour and 107 (15.6%) did not know.  Of the 180 young people's individual responses to the proposal to expand Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg, 54 (30%) were opposed, 86 (47.8%) were in favour and 40 (22.2%) did not know.    Of the 186 young people's individual responses to the proposal to relocate Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg and Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Talwg to the current site of Bryn Hafren Comprehensive School, 110 (59.1%) were opposed, 46 (27.7%) were in favour and 30 (16.1%) did not know.

 

20.    Key concerns relating to the proposal centred on:

  • the size of the proposed English-medium school and its effect on standards of education;
  • lack of information about the transition period 2017-2020 for the English-medium school;
  • the location of the expanded Welsh-medium secondary school;
  • uncertainty of securing funding from Welsh Government;
  • concern that there could be less breadth of subjects on offer at Key Stage 3, GCSE and A level at the proposed English-medium school.

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

  • the need for mixed sex secondary education in Barry;
  • mixed sex education will support the social development of young people;
  • the need for expansion of Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg

22.    Other key comments included:

  • preference for an alternative option, this being option 3: two separate English medium schools on separate sites and the expansion of Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg on its current site;
  • the expansion of the Welsh medium secondary school on its existing site.

23.    A summary of all key themes, issues and comments raised by respondents and the Council's response is provided in the consultation report attached at Appendix B.

 

24.    If the proposal were to progress, a statutory notice must be published providing 28 days for objections.  The notice must be published on a school day and be inclusive of 15 school days.  Accordingly, if the proposal were to progress a statutory notice for the transformation of secondary education in Barry would be issued to run from 05 October to 06 November 2015.

 

25.    In the light of the opposition to key aspects of the Council's proposals, it appears that it would not be possible to secure wide support to implement the current proposals. The response to the consultation indicates that although the majority of respondents are not in favour of the proposal to establish a single sex English medium school through the amalgamation of Barry and Bryn Hafren Comprehensive Schools, a significant proportion of these stated that they support coeducation and expressed a preference for option 3, this being the provision of two separate English medium schools on separate sites and the expansion of Ysgol Bro Morgannwg on its current site.

 

26.    In the earlier feasibility work which informed the published proposal, option 3 was not the preferred option for the following reasons:

  • it was considered that should the new mixed sex schools be based on the current Barry and Bryn Hafren Comprehensive School sites, one school could be perceived as being better than the other due to different levels of  prosperity and deprivation in the immediate area;
  • it would not address surplus places which are currently high at both schools and represent a drain on resources;
  • Bro Morgannwg would be expanded on its current site which is considered to be limited in its capacity to accommodate a school of the required size and would be a costly option when compared to relocating the school to an alternative site.  Within the consultation proposal, that site was highlighted as being the Bryn Hafren site.

27.    Given the responses to the consultation, it is recommended that further work is now undertaken to consider whether there is merit in developing a revised proposal based on the principles of option 3.  This will allow a re-evaluation of the potential disadvantages outlined above. This work would be undertaken by a new Barry Secondary Schools Transformation Group which would include the head teachers and chairs of governors of the three secondary schools, two head teacher representatives from feeder primary schools, representation from further and higher education, the Cabinet Member for Children's Services and Schools, the Managing Director and officers of the Learning and Skills Directorate.

 

28.    The consultation document (Appendix A) includes information about the current condition of the three secondary school buildings.  It is highly relevant that the condition of the Barry Comprehensive School building is categorised as 'poor' and the work required to address issues is more extensive than that required to the other secondary school buildings included in the proposals.  Given that there will now be a period of re-evaluation as described above, consideration has been given to whether it is appropriate and necessary to address certain condition issues in the short term whilst alternative transformation proposals are developed.

 

29.    A separate report on this agenda on school performance for the academic year 2014/15 refers to the outcome of an Estyn monitoring visit to Barry Comprehensive School in July 2015. Estyn is of the opinion that the school is in need of significant improvement.   The school has prepared a draft Post Inspection Action Plan and officers are also required to prepare a statement of action.  In this context and the desirability of providing an enhanced learning environment for students at the school, it is proposed that a programme of work is developed to address the most urgent condition issues and make improvements to the learning environment and that Cabinet receives a further report on the proposed programme in due course.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

30.    The cost of undertaking the consultation has been met from within Directorate budgets.  There will be cost implications in reassessing further options which can also be met from existing budgets.  There will also be financial implications in securing short term improvements to the learning environment at Barry Comprehensive School, and these will only be known when a programme is developed.  This will be a matter for further Cabinet consideration in due course..

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

31.    There are clear sustainability and climate change implications arising from this report.  These include issues around redevelopment of premises and sites, as well as the journeys to and from school.  Such issues will be assessed as part of the wider re-evaluation of options.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

32.    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.

 

33.    In accordance with the statutory process outlined in the School Organisation Code 2013, a consultation report must be published within 13 weeks at the end of the period allowed for response to the consultation exercise.

Crime and Disorder Implications

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

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

35.    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.  When developing a revised proposal attention will be given to ensuring that pupils of both sexes have access to a broad curriculum and to ensuring that sufficient Welsh medium secondary school places are available to meet demand.

 

36.    An Equality Impact Assessment on the initial proposal was compiled and is attached as Appendix C.  A revised Equality Impact Assessment will be developed on an alternative proposal in due course.

Corporate/Service Objectives

37.    The development of proposals to transform secondary education in Barry progresses LS2 to 'Develop, consult on and implement a School Reorganisation Programme to ensure the right schools are provided in the right places'.  This is included in the Corporate Plan 2013-17.

 

38.    Subject to consideration, a revised proposal could contribute 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

39.    This report is a matter for Executive decision by the Cabinet.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

40.    Public consultation with all prescribed consultees and interested parties has been carried out regarding the transformation of secondary education in Barry, in accordance with legislation.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

41.    Lifelong Learning

Background Papers

None

Contact Officer:

Anne Brown:        School Organisation Manager

Officers Consulted

Paula Ham:        Head of Strategy, Community Learning and Resources

Mike Glavin         Head of School Improvement and Inclusion

Mike Matthews:     Principal School Planning Officer

Carolyn Michael:    Operations Manager, Finance

Jane Wade:        Operations Manager, Property

Mike Walsh:        Principal Lawyer

Responsible Officer:

Jennifer Hill:        Director of Learning and Skills

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