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The Vale of Glamorgan Council

Cabinet Meeting: 14 December, 2015

Report of the Cabinet Member for Children's Services & 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 4 January 2016 for a period of 6 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.
  1. Cabinet refers this report to the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) for its consideration as part of the proposed consultation process.

Reasons for the Recommendations

  1. To comply with the requirements of the School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Act 2013.
  2. To ensure that the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) is consulted on the proposal.

Background

  1. A report requesting approval to consult on the amalgamation of Cadoxton Nursery and Primary Schools was to be considered by Cabinet on 19 October 2015. At the meeting the Cabinet Member for Children's Services and Schools tabled a statement from the Chair of Governors of Cadoxton Nursery School, and in light of the tabled information the report was deferred for further consideration of the proposal. This report has been revised in response to comments put forward in the statement.
  2. The Council maintains 43 primary schools, one infant and one junior school, one 3-19 school and 3 nursery schools in the Vale of Glamorgan. The separate infant and junior schools are St Helen's Infants and St Helen's 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 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 of 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%. 26.8% of pupils at Cadoxton Primary School are supported at School Action compared to an average of 10.4% for the Vale of Glamorgan and a national average of 12.3%. The school also supports 9.8% of children at School Action Plus compared to an average of 5.1% for the Vale of Glamorgan and a national average of 7.4%. There are presently no children at the school with a statement of Special Educational Needs.
  7. 39% of children attending Cadoxton Nursery School live in the catchment area of the school. 16.12% of pupils at Cadoxton Nursery School are supported at School Action whilst 2.15% of children at the nursery are supported at School Action Plus.
  8. During the 2015 admissions round, 71 children attending Cadoxton Nursery School were eligible to apply for a reception place at a primary school for September 2015. Of the 71, 58 (82%) were admitted to Cadoxton Primary School which had a total reception intake of 60 pupils. Parents of the remaining 13 children applied for them to attend a range of other schools as set out below:
 
 School  Number of pupils
 Holton Primary  1
 High Street Primary  1
 Jenner Park Primary  1
 Fairfield Primary  1
 St Helen's Infants  2
 Llandough Primary  1
 Out of County  1
 Colcot Primary  2
 Sully Primary  1
 Gwenfo Primary  1
 Romilly Primary  1

 

  1. Of the 15 primary schools in Barry, 14 have nurseries which are part of the school, Cadoxton Primary School being the only primary school in Barry without nursery provision.

Relevant Issues and Options

  1. The Council works closely with the governing bodies of both schools to ensure that standards in the schools are high, that teaching and learning is of high quality and that leadership and governance is strong. The Council works with Estyn and the Central South Consortium to monitor the performance of schools and to support school improvement.
  2. Schools are inspected as part of a national programme of school inspection. The purpose of an inspection is to identify good features and shortcomings in schools in order that they may improve the quality of education offered and raise the standards achieved by their pupils (Estyn).
  3. For Estyn inspections carried out before September 2010, there were 7 key questions for which the following grades could be awarded:

Grade 1 - Good with outstanding features

Grade 2 - Good features with no significant shortcomings

Grade 3 - Good features outweigh shortcomings

Grade 4 - Some good features, but shortcomings in important areas

Grade 5 - Many important shortcomings

  1. In September 2010 a new common inspection framework was introduced. During each school inspection, inspectors aim to answer three key questions:

Key Question 1:                 How good are the outcomes?

Key Question 2:                 How good is provision?

Key Question 3:                 How good are leadership and management?

  1. Inspectors also provide an overall judgement on the school's current performance and on its prospects for improvement. In these evaluations, inspectors use a four-point scale:
 

Judgement

What the judgement means

Excellent

Many strengths, including significant examples of sector-leading practice

Good

Many strengths and no important areas requiring significant improvement

Adequate

Strengths outweigh areas for improvement

Unsatisfactory

Important areas for improvement outweigh strengths

  1. Cadoxton Primary School was inspected by Estyn in June 2011 and was assessed as having good performance and good prospects for improvement. The school was inspected under the current four point scale as detailed in paragraph 13. Estyn's judgement in relation to the three key inspection questions was as follows:

Key Question 1                How good are outcomes?                                                               Good

Key Question 2:                How good is provision?                                                                 Good

Key Question 3:                How good are leadership and management?                                 Good

  1. Cadoxton Nursery School was inspected by Estyn in March 2010. The nursery was inspected under the five-point scale as detailed in paragraph 11 for inspections prior to September 2010. Estyn assessed the school as "good with many outstanding features". The grades awarded by Estyn for the 7 key questions are listed below:
 

Key Question

Inspection grade

1                 How well do learners achieve?

             1

2                 How effective are teaching, training and assessment?

             1

3                 How well do the learning experiences meet the needs and interests of learners and the wider community?

             1

4                 How well are learners cared for, guided and supported?

             1

5                 How effective are leadership and strategic management?

             1

6                 How well do leaders and managers evaluate and improve quality and standards?

             2

7                 How efficient are leaders and managers in using resources?

             1

  1. 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 CSCJES need to give each school in order that they achieve their targets.
  2. The support categories are described below:
 

Category

What the category means

Green

A highly effective school which is well run, has strong leadership and is clear about its priorities for improvement

Yellow

An effective school which is already doing well and knows the areas it needs to improve.

Amber

A school in need of improvement which needs help to identify the steps to improve or to make change happen more quickly.

Red

A school in need of greatest improvement and will receive immediate, intensive support.

  1. To determine the colour coded category, schools are placed in one of four groups for standards (1-4) and for the capacity to bring about improvement (A-D) with one being the highest grouping for standards and A being the highest for improvement capacity.               
 

School

Standards

Improvement Capacity

Support Category

Cadoxton Nursery School

N/A

A

Green

Cadoxton Primary School

3

A

Yellow

  1. Cadoxton Primary School is categorised as yellow support and Cadoxton Nursery School as green support. It should be noted that the categorisation of nursery schools is not published by Welsh Government as the standards assessed by this model are not applicable to nursery schools. The nursery school has therefore been assessed only on its capacity to improve. The provisional national categorisation of schools for 2016 which is due to be published next January shows both the nursery and primary school in the green support category.
  2. Amalgamation would enable the strengths present in the existing separate nursery and primary schools to be combined to deliver high quality provision in one school operating across two adjacent sites. This would allow a shared vision and leadership fully embedding a consistent and coherent curriculum across the primary phase. The proposal to amalgamate the two schools would maximise benefits, especially in the Foundation Phase, and would offer greater potential for improving the levels of achievement for all pupils.
  3. The changes should not have any negative effect on the children at any stage of their education at the school. At this very early point it would provide them with a consistent approach to their learning which will follow them all through their time at the school and help them to understand their place within the school family.
  4. The proposal would provide the following potential benefits:
  • The establishment of a single leadership team and governing body would result in the removal of duplication of management and governance functions.
  • The streamlining of management and administrative functions, as well as the ability to arrange joint contracts and service level agreements for building and other support services would result in available funding being utilised more effectively.
  • Duplication of specialist posts such as Additional Learning Needs Coordinator and Child Protection Officer would be removed enabling more effective use of resources.
  • Where parents have children of both nursery and primary ages, amalgamation of the nursery and primary school would make it easier to engage with parents. Parents would only need to familiarise themselves with one set of policies and one set of communications.
  • An amalgamation would enable strengths present in the existing separate schools to be combined and to contribute to the already high quality provision offered at both schools. A consistent education philosophy would be put in place for children for up to 9 uninterrupted years of education, thereby minimising the potential for disruption during transition from nursery to the school.
  • 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.
  • The provision for pupils with Additional Learning Needs (ALN) will continue to be identified at an early age as it currently is in the nursery school. The proposal would support a coordinated approach to planning for the needs of vulnerable pupils across the Foundation Phase.
  • The proposal would provide staff with continuing professional development opportunities by enabling them to gain experience in an 'all through' Foundation Phase and key stage 2 thereby improving their career options.
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 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, 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.
  4. For clarification, as the preferred option for amalgamation is to extend the age range of Cadoxton Primary School, the substantive headteacher of the 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 its membership from 14 members to 18 to include members from the governing body of the nursery school. This approach was successfully adopted for the amalgamation of Dinas Powys Infants and Murch Junior schools in January 2015. The school would continue to be called Cadoxton Primary School.
  5. There would not be any need to realign the catchment area of the primary school as a result of this proposal as the catchment areas of the nursery and the primary school are coterminous.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. The Council must then decide whether or not to proceed with the proposal within 26 weeks of the end of the consultation period.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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)

  1. The Council is facing unprecedented financial challenges as a result of on-going reductions in funding from Westminster and consequent reductions to the Council's revenue support grant from Welsh Government. The Council must find £24.7M savings over the 3 years 2015/16 - 2017/18, it is therefore incumbent on all Council services to use available funding as effectively as possible. The standalone nursery model is costly when compared to the alternative of the nursery being part of a primary school.
  2. The amalgamation of the two schools would result in funding being allocated to the primary school on the same basis as for other primary schools with nurseries. The delegated funding for the primary school would be approximately £86,000 less than the funding currently provided for the separate nursery and primary school. The saving of £86K will not be fully achieved in the first year of amalgamation as transitional funding arrangements would be put in place to enable the school to embed a new structure and negotiate new joint contracts and service level agreements.
  3. The majority of revenue saving would be generated through changes to staffing resulting from the school's new staffing structure. 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

  1. 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)

  1. 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.
  2. 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

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

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

  1. 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.
  2. 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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

  1. This is a matter for Executive decision.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

  1. 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.
  2. Ward Member consultation has been undertaken.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

  1. Lifelong Learning.

Background Papers

None.

Contact Officer

Paula Ham

Officers Consulted

Mike Glavin                              Head of School Improvement and Inclusion

Operational Manager                Legal Services

Operational Manager                Human Resources

Operational Manager                Finance

Anne Brown                             School Organisation Manager

Nicola Monckton                       School Finance Manager

Responsible Officer:

Jennifer Hill

Director of Learning and Skills

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