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The Vale of Glamorgan Council

Cabinet Meeting: 19 October, 2015

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

Proposal to amalgamate Cadoxton Nursery and Cadoxton Primary schools and extend the age range of Cadoxton Primary School from 4 to 11 to 3 to 11 years

Purpose of the Report

1.    To seek Cabinet approval to consult stakeholders on a proposal to create a 3 to 11 year primary school through the amalgamation of Cadoxton Nursery and Primary schools.

Recommendations

1.    Cabinet authorises the Director of Learning and Skills, in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Children's Services and Schools, to undertake consultation from 2 November 2015 for a period of 7 weeks on the proposal to amalgamate Cadoxton Nursery and Primary Schools by:

  • extending the age range of Cadoxton Primary School from a 4-11 to a 3-11 years school; and
  • closing Cadoxton Nursery School.

2.    Cabinet refers this report to the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) for their consideration as part of the proposed consultation process.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.    To assess the level of support for the proposal to amalgamate Cadoxton Nursery and Cadoxton Primary schools on the two existing sites from 1 September 2016.

 

2.    To ensure that the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) is consulted on the proposal.

Background

2.    The Council maintains 44 primary schools, one infant and one junior school and 3 nursery schools in the Vale of Glamorgan.  The separate infant and junior schools are St Helens Infants and St Helens Junior schools, which are Roman Catholic voluntary aided schools.  The nursery schools are Bute Cottage and Cogan Nursery schools in Penarth and Cadoxton Nursery school in Barry.

 

3.    Over the past 10 years the Council has sought to move towards a primary school model for 3 to 11 years education by amalgamating separate infant and junior schools where there has been an opportunity to do so.  Cadoxton Primary school was established from the amalgamation of the infant and junior schools in 2002.  At that time it was decided that the nursery should not be included as part of this process of amalgamation.  In the light of experience in other primary schools which have nursery classes, the development of the foundation phase curriculum and continuing pressures on the schools budget, it it is now appropriate to reconsider this decision.

 

4.    Cadoxton Nursery School and Cadoxton Primary School are located approximately 20 metres apart on adjacent sites.  Cadoxton Nursery School has capacity of 100 part time nursery places and Cadoxton Primary School has capacity for 420 primary pupils.

 

5.    The number on roll at Cadoxton Nursery School in May 2015 (final intake for 2014/15) was 100 children whilst Cadoxton Primary School had 366 on roll at the Pupil Level Annual School Census (PLASC) carried out in January 2015. The primary school has surplus capacity of 12.86%.  Pupil projections anticipate the number on the roll on the primary school will increase to 373 by January 2020 indicating a potential surplus capacity of 11.2%.  

 

6.    26% of children attending Cadoxton Primary School live in the catchment area of the school.  38% of children attending Cadoxton Primary School are entitled to Free School Meals (FSM) compared to an average of 12% for the Vale of Glamorgan and a national average of 18.8%.  27% of pupils at Cadoxton Primary School are supported through School Action compared to an average of 13% for the Vale of Glamorgan and a national average of 12.3%.  The school also supports 9.8% of children through School Action Plus compared to an average of 6% for the Vale of Glamorgan and a national average of 7.4%.  No children at the school currently have a statement of Special Educational Needs.

 

7.    During the 2015 admission exercise 84% of admissions to the reception year at Cadoxton Primary School, were children who had previously attended Cadoxton Nursery School.

Relevant Issues and Options

8.    Estyn inspected Cadoxton Nursery School in March 2010 and noted that "the overall quality of the educational provision for the under-fives is appropriate to their needs and the children are making good progress towards the foundation phase outcomes".  It was noted that "on entry to nursery, the majority of children have personal, social, physical and mathematical skills that are below average according to the school's baseline assessments".

 

9.    Cadoxton Primary School was inspected by Estyn in June 2011 and was judged to be "good".  The report noted that "the leadership and management of [Cadoxton Primary School] are experienced and effective….planning for improvement is very detailed and accurately focused on the needs of the school".

 

10.    In 2014 Welsh Government introduced a new categorisation system that considered each school's standards alongside the school's capacity to improve so as to understand the level of support that organisations such as the Central South Consortium Joint Education Service (CSCJES) would need to give each school in order that they achieve their targets.  Both Cadoxton Nursery and Primary schools were categorised as 'Yellow' meaning that the schools are, "effective schools which are already doing well and know the areas that they need to improve".  

 

11.    The proposal would provide the following potential benefits:

Outcomes (Standards and Wellbeing)

  • A consistent education philosophy providing a seamless education provision from nursery to year 6.
  • Children would benefit from 7 uninterrupted years of education including a full phase approach to early years learning.
  • There would be consistent behaviour management strategies resulting in clear expectations and a shared ethos which is understood by children, parents and carers throughout the primary and early years' stages.
  • Intervention could be planned at an earlier age to support the educational and pastoral needs of the child.

Provision

  • Children of nursery age will be part of the school family from the age of 3 and will be used to 'school life', school values and school teaching methods.  This should enable individual goals to be set from the very beginning of the child's education.
  • The provision for pupils with Additional Learning Needs (ALN) will be identified at an earlier age.  It will enable staff to fully plan for a more pupil-led approach during the foundation phase so as to meet the individual needs of vulnerable pupils.
  • Pupil progress and learning will be tracked more systematically across four continuous years of the foundation phase.

Leadership and Management

  • Management and governance duplication would be reduced through a single leadership team and governing body.
  • Available funding can be used more effectively resulting in efficiency savings which could be reallocated to teaching and learning.
  • The amalgamated school would make it easier to engage with parents particularly where they have children in both key stages.  Parents would only need to familiarise themselves with one set of policies and one set of communications.

12.    There are two options for amalgamation.  One option is to close both the nursery school and the primary school, which is the approach taken in relation to the proposal to amalgamate Eagleswell and Llanilltud Fawr Primary schools in Llantwit Major.  A new governing body for the school would be established which would decide the staffing structure for the new school including appointment to the post of head teacher.

 

13.    An alternative option would be to extend the age range of one school and discontinue the other.  This could be achieved either by extending the age range of the primary school or the nursery school.

 

14.    The preferred view is that on balance there are more advantages in securing the amalgamation by the alternative option of extending the age range of one school and discontinuing the other because it would minimise the disruption in relation to the governance, leadership, staffing and policy at one school.  The primary school employs about 73 staff and the nursery school employs about 17 staff.  The primary school has expertise and policies relating to part of the foundation phase and all of key stage 2: the nursery school's main expertise and policies relate to part of the foundation phase.  Again, on balance, and taking in to account both the size of the two schools and the expertise of the governors, leadership team and staff and the scope of policies, that it would be most appropriate to extend the age range of Cadoxton Primary school and discontinue the nursery school.  This option will provide more continuity of leadership and extend the current management and governance structure.

 

15.    On this basis the headteacher of Cadoxton Primary School would continue as the headteacher of the newly amalgamated school and it is likely that the staff of the nursery school would be assimilated into the primary school.  The governing body of the primary school would continue as the governing body of the amalgamated school and could elect to increase in size to 18.  This approach was successfully adopted for the amalgamation of Dinas Powys Infants and Murch Junior schools in 2014.  The school would continue to be called Cadoxton Primary School.

 

16.    Catchment areas of the school would not need to be realigned as part of the amalgamation.

Statutory Process

17.    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.

 

18.    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.

 

19.    The consultation document will 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 an opportunity for discussion and clarification.

 

20.    Appropriate consultation will take place with prescribed consultees and a range of individuals the details of which are attached at Appendix A.  Consultation will also be undertaken with children on the school council of Cadoxton Primary School.  It is felt that it is not appropriate to consult with the children of nursery school age due to their capacity to understand the nature of the consultation.  Consultation with staff and trade unions would outline the proposed assimilation and support arrangements and would be managed in accordance with the agreed processes and statutory requirements.

 

21.    Within 13 weeks of the closing date of the consultation period a consultation report will 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 26 weeks of the end of the consultation period.

 

23.    If following the consultation process the Council decides that the amalgamation of Cadoxton Nursery and Primary schools 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 include 15 school days within the notice period.

 

24.    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.

 

25.    Appendix B sets out the anticipated timescale for this process if approved by Cabinet.  These dates are subject to change.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

26.    Amalgamating the two schools into a primary school on adjacent sites could achieve recurrent revenue savings of £60,000 per annum (dependent upon the final staffing structure determined by the governing body), due to efficiencies resulting from reducing duplicate services and optimising economies of scale.  The savings identified will be set off against the Directorate's 2016/17 savings target.

 

27.    The majority of any revenue saving are likely to be attached to a decrease in management costs resulting from the school's new staffing structure developed as a result of the amalgamation.  The development of the staffing structure and any implications would be subject to consultation with staff and the relevant Trade Unions.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications    

28.    Establishment of an 'all through' primary school offers a more efficient and sustainable model of delivery of education.  

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

29.    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 must comply with the relevant provisions in connection with the proposal.

 

30.    If approved, the statutory notice to amalgamate Cadoxton Nursery and Primary schools and extend the age range of Cadoxton Primary School 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

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

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

32.    A key driver to all school reorganisation proposals is to improve educational outcomes for children and young people in all phases and to narrow inequalities in achievement between advantaged and disadvantaged groups and individuals.  This amalgamation has the potential to improve children's educational outcomes from a very early stage in their lives by providing them with a consistent and structured path of learning.

 

33.    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.

 

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

Corporate/Service Objectives

35.    The amalgamation of Cadoxton Nursery and Cadoxton Primary schools 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.

 

36.    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

37.    This is a matter for Executive decision.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

38.    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.

 

39.    Ward Member consultation has been undertaken.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

40.    Lifelong Learning.

Background Papers

None

Contact Officer

Anne Brown, School Organisation Manager

Officers Consulted

Paula Ham             Head of Strategy, Community Learning and Resources

Mike Matthews        Principal School Planning Officer

Nicola Monckton         School Finance Manager

Operational Manager     Legal Services

Operational Manager     Human Resources

Operational Manager    Finance

Responsible Officer:

Jennifer Hill            Director of Learning and Skills

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