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THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL

 

CABINET: 16TH NOVEMBER, 2015

 

REFERENCE FROM SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (LIFELONG LEARNING): 12TH OCTOBER, 2015

 

 

“497    PROPOSAL TO TRANSFORM SECONDARY EDUCATION IN BARRY (REF) –

 

Cabinet had referred the report to the Scrutiny Committee on 5th October 2015 for information.  The report outlined the outcome of the recent consultation exercise that had been undertaken to transform secondary education in Barry. 

 

The report highlighted that secondary education in Barry was 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 1st September, 2015.

The consultation however, and the report did not include any proposals affecting St. Richard Gwyn Roman Catholic Comprehensive School.

 

A consultation to establish the extent of local support for the principle of coeducation was undertaken in 2013 and Cabinet had considered the response to that consultation at its meeting on 16th December, 2013 (Cabinet Minute C2124).  In response to this consultation, Cabinet had 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 23rd February, 2015.

 

As a consequence and following due consideration, Cabinet  resolved  that a consultation would take place from 11th 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.

 

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. The publication of the consultation report must take place before any proposal is published.  The consultation was undertaken between 11th May and 6th July, 2015 and consultees were issued with a hard copy of the document which was also published on the Council's website. There had also been extensive social media coverage of the consultation.

 

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

 

The report highlighted that appropriate consultation had 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.

 

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.

 

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 three Governing Bodies of the four 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.

 

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?

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

In light of the opposition to key aspects of the Council’s proposals, it appeared that it would not be possible to secure wide support to implement the current proposals on education grounds.  The response to the consultation also indicated that although the majority of respondents were 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 did however support co-education 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. 

 

As a result, given the responses to the consultation, it had therefore been recommended to Cabinet that further work was now undertaken to consider whether there was merit in developing a revised proposal based on the principles of Option 3.  The consultation document attached at Appendix A to the report also included information about the current condition of the three secondary school buildings.  The condition of Barry Comprehensive School building was categorised as “poor” and the work required to address issues was more extensive than that required to the other secondary school buildings included in the proposals. 

 

At the Cabinet meeting on 5th October, the Cabinet Member for Children’s Services and Schools concluded that the council was committed to invest significant sums of money into education in Barry in the short term and further highlighted that a capital fund would be set up for Barry Comprehensive School for improvements. 

 

Cabinet subsequently resolved

 

“(2)     That it be agreed 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 of the report, to include the Director of Learning and Skills, 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 regard of resolution 2 above, delegated authority be granted 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)       That the development of a programme of work for Barry Comprehensive School be authorised 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 be presented to Cabinet for further consideration in due course.”

 

In considering the report, a number of Members expressed their disappointment at the current proposals not being proceeded with for the children of Barry.  Their concern related to the delay in the provision for pupils and that they had heard that a number of respondents to the consultation had vested interests in the proposals and, queried whether as a result of that interest the implications for the children had not been fully considered.

 

The Cabinet Member for Children’s Services and Schools ( with permission to speak) stated that he and the Leader of the Council were committed to producing proposals in relation to the expansion of Bro Morgannwg before the Local Government elections in 2017and that further proposals in relation to Barry and Bryn Hafren would also be considered. 

 

A Co-opted Member, made reference to the omission of St. Richard Gwyn as part of the secondary school transformation board but was advised by the Cabinet Member that the Diocese had informed the Council that they had limited funding to support proposals which had required the Council to consider funding for the schools in the poorest condition.  The Cabinet Member stated St. Richard Gwyn was therefore not involved on the basis of a priority of need.  Barry Comprehensive school had also, through Estyn monitoring, been judged to require significant improvement and there were issues at Bryn Hafren in relation to raising performance for maths. 

 

The Chairman also raised the issue of other schools that had been highlighted by Estyn as having deficiencies, and in particular referred to Ysgol St. Baruc and the lack of catering facilities.  The Cabinet Member agreed to set up a meeting with the Head teacher to discuss the issue fully as soon as possible. 

 

With regard to any issues other schools may have regarding their buildings, the Chairman advised Members to write to the Cabinet Member / Director detailing the issues facing their schools.  In response, the Cabinet Member advised that to date the current Labour administration since his appointment had increased budgets to schools, established a Victorian Buildings Fund, adopted a winter-asset renewal programme and developed various one off projects and additional projects for a number of schools. 

 

In conclusion, the Cabinet Member stated that having considered all the representations including the views of residents of the Vale and young people on the basis of the educational concerns raised as a result of the consultation he confirmed that a new programme board would be established as outlined in paragraph 27 of the report and advised that further consultation would take place on any new proposals that were approved by Cabinet.

 

Following consideration of the Cabinet reference and report it was

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)     T H A T the resolutions of Cabinet be noted.

 

(2)     T H A T Cabinet be informed of the views of the Committee, as outlined above, and that Cabinet be urged to move forward with proposals to transform secondary education in Barry as soon as possible as any delay would have serious consequences for the children of Barry. 

 

(3)    T H A T Cabinet be requested to consider other schools where facilities were reported as deficient by Estyn with the request that a programme be devised to address such issues.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

(1)    In recognition of the contents contained therein.

 

(2)    In view of the Committees concerns regarding undue delay for the children of 

        Barry.

 

(3)    In order that a programme can be established to address deficiencies in schools as highlighted by Estyn.”

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