Top

Top

 

Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Scrutiny Committee [Corporate Resources]: 26th June 2012

 

Report of the Chief Executive

 

The Vale of Glamorgan School Investment Programme (2012/13 to 2019/20)

 

Purpose of the Report

1.             To inform Members of The Vale of Glamorgan School Investment Programme (SIP) for the period 2012/13 to 2019/20.

2.             To seek support from Members in requesting Cabinet approval for delegated powers authorising submission of the business justification case for Ysgol Dewi Sant to the Welsh Government for 21st Century Schools funding.

Recommendations

1.             That Members consider the Vale of Glamorgan School Investment Programme (2012/13 to 2019/20) attached as Appendix A.

2.             That Members recommend to Cabinet that delegated powers be authorised to submit a business justification case for the completion of the next phase of Ysgol Dewi Sant by September 2012 to release Welsh Government Capital funding for this revised Band A project.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.             To ensure Members are aware of The Vale of Glamorgan School Investment Programme (2012/13 to 2019/20).

2.             To ensure that Welsh Government capital funding can be applied for promptly to progress a high priority project within the School Investment Programme.

Background

3.             The 21st Century Schools Programme was formally launched by the Welsh Government in March 2010 to support large-scale capital building projects across Wales with the aim of enhancing school buildings to meet 21st Century educational needs. 

4.             In line with Welsh Government requirements the Vale's 21st Century Schools Strategic Outline Programme (the original SOP) was submitted to the Welsh Government in December 2010 and at the time the Welsh Government was providing a 70% grant support intervention rate towards local authority school investment projects.  However, as reported to the Cabinet Meeting of 19th October 2011 (Cabinet Minute C1470 refers) in July 2011 the Minister For Education and Skills outlined in a written statement that Welsh Government contributions would be reduced to 50% and as a result local authorities across Wales were invited to review and prepare revised forward outlook programmes for school capital investments. 

5.             At the Cabinet meeting of 16th November 2011 (Cabinet Minute C1523 refers) a revised forward outlook programme for the Vale called the Revised Band A programme of projects was reported and approved for submission to the Welsh Government based on the lower 50% grant support from the Welsh Government. 

6.             The submission of the Revised Band A programme of projects was successful and in December 2012 a Conditional Offer was received from the Welsh Government (subject to the approval of business cases for each scheme and statutory approvals where applicable) for £10.48 Million of Welsh Government grant support towards the total cost of £20.96 Million, which will transform and enhance various schools in Llantwit Major and Barry.

7.             In addition to the Revised Band A projects as reported to Cabinet on 16th November 2011 the Council is anticipating to draw down up to £33,360,650 of Welsh Government grant funding for the Penarth Learning Community (PLC), which represents a 70% grant support rate as the Council successfully secured this grant under the former Tranche 3 (T3) of the 21st Century Schools transitional grant funding.  The PLC remains on programme and subject to planning construction should start on site during Autumn 2012.

8.             On 22 May 2012 officers met with the Welsh Government to discuss the next steps in progressing the revised Band A Projects within the 21st Century Schools Programme. Welsh Government officers confirmed that capital funding could be available prior to the original start date of April 2014, if this would be beneficial to Local Authorities. The availability of Welsh Government funding would be subject to prior approval of business cases for projects over £5m and business justification cases for projects under £5m.

Relevant Issues and Options

9.             In view of the above changes over recent years of the Welsh Government's 21st Century Schools Programme, a new School Investment Programme (SIP) has been prepared and is appended to this report. 

10.        The new SIP seeks to consolidate the recent history of Welsh Government funding for schools in the Vale of Glamorgan ranging from The Schools Building Improvement Grant (SBIG) (up to 2008), the 21st Century Schools Transitional Funding (from 2008 to 2010), followed by the launch of the 21st Century Schools Programme (from March 2010), outlines the Vale's original Strategic Outline Programme (SOP of December 2010), followed by summarising the reduction of Welsh Government funding under the 21st Century Schools Investment Programme (as mentioned above) leading to the Revised Band A programme of projects (of November 2011).

11.        For the Vale of Glamorgan area the SIP sets out in one document both the planned capital investments for large scale new build/remodelling school projects and also outlines the ongoing improvement and renewal of all schools in the area (i.e. Asset Renewal).

12.        Despite significant financial constraints the SIP reports a track record of successful project implementation over the past 5 years by the Council with the delivery of circa £46 Million of capital investments including the completed £22 Million remodelling of Cowbridge Comprehensive School and just over £2 Million invested in the feasibility and design of Penarth Learning Community. 

13.        Building on this success the SIP sets out a programme of new capital investment amounting to £74.73 Million for the period 2012/13 to 2019/20.  This includes (subject to statutory consents) the proposed implementation of Penarth Learning Community (a circa investment of £47.16 Million, the Revised Band A projects (a circa investment of £20.96 Million) and £6.61 Million earmarked for Asset Renewal.

14.        As explained in the SIP these major capital investments greatly improve access to high quality education, training and learning facilities within the Vale.  In addition the projects will also bring much needed wider regeneration benefits such as new and enhanced community facilities, and the creation of vital construction jobs and business supply chain opportunities.

15.        Following the recent meeting with the Welsh Government an assessment of the four projects within Band A has been carried out, for the reasons outlined below it is considered to be beneficial to the Vale to initially bring the next phase at Ysgol Dewi Sant forward.

16.        Ysgol Dewi Sant (Llantwit Major) opened in September 2011 with a nursery and reception classroom along with a hall and ancillary administration and support rooms. The current capacity of the school, 30 in the reception classroom, will be unable to accommodate the 32 pupils in reception, year 1 and 2 forecast to attend the school in September 2013 rising to a minimum of 43 pupils in 2014.

17.        Prior to opening, Ysgol Dewi Sant pupil numbers were difficult to predict with accuracy as this is the first Welsh medium primary school in Llantwit Major and parental demand was therefore not proven. The Authority therefore assumed a conservative level of parental demand. However parental demand for Welsh Medium in the Llantwit Major area is increasing more rapidly than the initial estimates and the next phase of development is required earlier than originally planned to accommodate these additional children. This scheme is considered the most pressing of the revised Band A projects due to the rapid increase in Welsh Medium reception class applications which cannot be accommodated from 2013 onwards within the existing building.

18.        Feasibility studies will be carried out on the remaining schemes to determine if any of these can also be beneficially brought forward. A report will be brought to the Scrutiny (Corporate Resources) Committee detailing the result of this feasibility study and confirming if any of the schemes can be brought forward.

19.        Cabinet will be requested to provide delegated powers to the Chief Executive / Managing Director to approve the submission of the business justification case for Ysgol Dewi Sant in consultation with the Leader and Cabinet Member. The current intention is to submit the required documentation relating to the Welsh Medium school to the Welsh Government before September 2012.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment and Climate Change, if appropriate)

20.        The School Investment Programme is identified within the Council's Capital Programme.  As outlined in the appended SIP document the Council's match funding to the Welsh Government grant comprises General Capital Funding, Section 106 Monies, Schools Investment Strategy Reserve, Prudential Borrowing and contributions from other Councils.

21.        The SIP also refers to the possibility of capital receipts being raised from the disposal of land.  If capital receipts can be secured this will enable the Council to reduce its Prudential Borrowing and allow further projects to proceed. 

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

22.        There are no legal implications from this matter.

Crime and Disorder Implications

23.        There are no crime and disorder implications.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

24.        There are no equal opportunities implications arising from this matter.

Corporate/Service Objectives

25.        The School Investment Programme is a Corporate Priority and improving the learning environment is a key priority within Education 2015.

Policy Framework and Budget

26.        The School Investment Programme is a matter for Executive Decision.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

27.        Not applicable as this is a Vale wide matter.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

28.        Corporate Resources.

Background Papers

21st Century Schools Strategic Outline Programme - December 2010;

Vale of Glamorgan Revised Band A programme of projects - November 2011.

 

Contact Officer:

Mark Haynes, School Organisation and Access Manager

 

Officers Consulted:

Sian Davies, Director of Finance, ICT and Property

Paula Ham, Head of Strategic Planning and Performance

Jane Wade, OM Property

Mark White, Major Projects Manager

 

Responsible Officer:

John Maitland Evans, Chief Executive

Share on facebook Like us on Facebook