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The Vale of Glamorgan Council

Cabinet Meeting: 30 November, 2015

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

School Admission Arrangements 2017/2018

Purpose of the Report

  1. To seek Cabinet approval to consult on the authority's school admission arrangements as required by the Welsh Government's School Admission Code issued in July 2013.

Recommendations

  1. That Cabinet approve the consultation required to local authority admission arrangements to ensure compliance with the Welsh Government School Admissions Code 2013.
  2. That Cabinet approve consultation on an interim revision to the school catchment areas of High Street and Holton Primary Schools.

Reasons for the Recommendations

  1. The Council is required to review school admission arrangements annually and determine the arrangements for admissions in September 2017 by 15th April 2016 following appropriate consultation.
  2. The Council is required to keep school catchment areas under review.

Background

  1. A local authority (LA) has a statutory duty to consult on school admission arrangements annually. The School Admission Arrangements for implementation in September 2017 must be determined by 15 April 2016.
  2. The LA has a statutory duty to consult with the governing bodies of the relevant schools (those schools who have delegated admission powers); all neighbouring LAs; the admission authorities for all other maintained schools in the relevant area; the governing bodies of all other schools in the relevant area (i.e. community and voluntary controlled schools which do not have delegated admission powers). The relevant area is determined as the geographical area of the Vale of Glamorgan.
  3. The LA is required to publish a composite document each year for the subsequent school year's admission round detailing school admission arrangements for all maintained schools in its area. This information is contained within the Council's information guide "A Parental Guide to School Admissions in the Vale".
  4. The Welsh Government's School Admissions Code 2013 requires admission authorities to act in accordance with the code. The code includes practical guidance and imposes requirements on local authorities and admission authorities, regarding the discharge of duties in respect of admissions.
  5. The LA is proposing to consult on the proposed admissions policy (attached Appendix A) as required by the Welsh Government`s School Admissions Code 2013.
  6. The LA is proposing to consult on an interim revision to the catchment areas of High Street and Holton primary schools to meet the pupil demand arising from Barry Waterfront Development until a proposed new school is built on the development in 2019.
  7. A school catchment area is a geographically defined area of addresses drawn up to ensure that all schools in an area receive a fair share of pupils. This ensures pupils can, wherever possible, attend a local school. Catchment areas are used:
  • To provide parents with an indication of their local school.
  • To help schools identify with the communities they serve.
  • To prioritise admissions to school when there are more applications than places available.
  • As a planning tool to enable the LA to fulfil its duty to forecast demand for education in an area and to plan to meet that demand.
  • As an element of transport policy in order to facilitate the organisation of school transport and control costs.
  • Catchment areas do not apply to special schools or resource bases.

Relevant Issues and Options

  1. The Welsh Government issued a revised School Admissions Code in July 2013. The Council must "act in accordance with the Code" as determined by the School Standards and Framework Act.
  2. The proposed changes to the councils admissions policy as required by the School Admissions Code are as follows:

Consultation on an interim revision to the school catchment areas of High Street and Holton primary schools

  1. It is estimated that the Barry Waterfront Development (The Development) will increase the primary school population in the area by about 370 children once all houses are occupied in around 2022/23. The development has commenced and is currently situated within the High Street Primary School catchment area.
  2. Based on current build rates, the authority is anticipating that an additional 210 children from the waterfront development will require primary school places for the academic years 2017/18 and 2018/19. This number includes demand for places in English medium, Welsh medium and denominational schools. Current demand for pupil places from Phase 1 of the development is being met at a number of schools within the local area. A number of families moving to the waterfront development live within the Barry area and are keeping their children at their existing primary schools.
  3. A new primary school is proposed for the development in 2019 (subject to building completion rates) to accommodate children living on the waterfront development.
  4. High Street Primary School is a one form entry school with limited capacity to accommodate the numbers arising from the development. High Street Primary School's capacity is sufficient to accommodate children from its catchment area, but is insufficient to also accommodate children from the new development. The catchment area was increased in size for September 2015 to take in the Knap area of Barry. Current and revised catchment area maps are attached at Appendix B.
  5. Holton Primary School is a two and a half form entry school with 33% surplus capacity, i.e. 175 places unfilled. Surplus capacity in excess of 25% is defined as significant by the Welsh Government and is considered to be a drain on resources. The Welsh Government requires authorities to take measures to reduce surplus places in such circumstances. The school has the capacity to accommodate demand for school places arising from the development in the interim period that would potentially reduce the level of surplus capacity. The walking distance from the Waterfront Development to Holton Primary School is 1.36 miles from its furthest point.
  6. The above changes will provide parents living in the new waterfront development with a local school place, as far as possible, but recognising that parents are able to express a preference for a school of their choice.
  7. The catchment area revisions will be consulted upon with schools and prescribed consultees before any decisions are made.
  8. The LA's admission arrangements will manage the admission intake to schools under which catchment area children are ranked as a high priority when allocating places in the event of oversubscription at primary and secondary schools.
  9. Catchment areas are regularly reviewed to ensure that they meet the needs of the population they serve.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

  1. Funding for additional pupils at schools will be supported through the school funding formula.
  2. The revision to school catchment areas would result in a more effective use of assets through the potential reduction of surplus capacity at Holton Primary School.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

  1. There are no sustainability and climate change implications. Holton Primary School is within walking distance of the Waterfront development with minimal impact on traffic movement in the area. There will be no requirement for any school transport service for these children.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

  1. Section 89 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 and regulation 4 of the Education (Determination of Admission Arrangements) (Wales) Regulations 2006 require Admission Authorities to consult and determine school admission arrangements annually. The act also requires councils to "act in accordance with the (School Admissions) Code". The regulations set a timescale for the consultation and determination of admission arrangements and this report reflects those requirements.

Crime and Disorder Implications

  1. There are no crime and disorder implications.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

  1. This policy will enable families to access a place in their local school. There are no other Equal Opportunity implications arising from this proposed change to the Admission Arrangements.

Corporate/Service Objectives

  1. The proposal provides a basis for the Council to achieve its corporate objectives for Education and Lifelong Learning and links with the Council's objectives for social wellbeing and tackling disadvantage.

Policy Framework and Budget

  1. This is a matter for Executive decision.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

  1. Ward member consultation has been undertaken. Councillors Elmore and Drake are supportive of the proposal. Cllr Egan will be chairing the Governing Body meeting at High Street Primary School on Thursday 26th November. Cllr Egan's views will be reported to Cabinet after this date.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

  1. Lifelong Learning

Background Papers

None

Contact Officer:

Lisa Lewis - Access & Policy Manager - Tel no 01446 709899

Officers Consulted:

Paula Ham - Head of Service, Strategy, Community Learning & Resources

Trevor Baker, Operational Manager

Anne Brown - School Organisation Manager

Mike Matthews, Principal Strategic Planning Officer

Responsible Officer:

Jennifer Hill

Director of Learning and Skills

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