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Agenda Item No

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning): 7th November 2011

 

Report of the Director of Learning and Development

 

Penarth Learning Community

 

Purpose of the Report

1.             To update Members on the position with Penarth Learning Community.

 Recommendation

1.             Members note the position on Penarth Learning Community and the timescale for the associated statutory process.

Reason for the Recommendation

1.             Members are aware of the latest position regarding the funding for Penarth Learning Community and the statutory process to be followed.

Background

2.             The 21st Century Schools Programme was formally launched in March 2010 and the Vale's 21st Century Schools Strategic Outline Programme (SOP) was submitted in December 2010 in line with Welsh Government requirements.

3.             Pending the start of the programme, three tranches of 21st Century Schools transitional funding were made available to local authorities on a bidding basis. The Council successfully bid for funding towards the cost of Cowbridge Comprehensive School under the first tranche and secured funding for feasibility and design works for Penarth Learning Community in the second tranche. The Vale's bid for tranche 3 (T3) funding for Penarth Learning Community submitted on 28th May 2010 was approved in principle subject to a further financial business case which was submitted in March 2011. A further conditional grant offer of up to £34,563,200 was made in July 2011 subject to justification of the size of the Special School and residential accommodation based on the outcome of discussions with other Local Authorities. Discussions regarding future regional demand which have been on-going since November 2010 have recently concluded enabling the Vale to confirm the size of the provision thereby meeting the condition of the grant offer.  

Relevant Issues and Options

4.             As previously stated, Penarth Learning Community is a T3 scheme with a funding contribution requirement of 30%. Council funding for this scheme is included in the indicative 5 year Capital Programme as approved by Full Council. The total cost of the scheme has been revised to reflect a slight reduction in the size of the Special School and residential provision. A new funding profile is being developed to reflect the reduced cost of the scheme as well as funding contributions from other Local Authorities. This will be factored into a revised Schools Investment Programme which will also incorporate revised investment priorities in the light of reduced capital funding.

5.             The current position regarding the cost and funding of the Penarth Learning Community is shown in Appendix 1. Changes to the cost and funding of the scheme since the approval of the indicative Capital Programme in March 2011 are shown in the table and are explained in the foot notes to the table.

6.             The Welsh Government has advised that the Council can now commence the statutory process in relation to Penarth Learning Community. The process and the timescale involved are attached (Appendix 2). The statutory consultation document (Appendix 3) sets out information in relation to the statutory proposal.  Members should note that irrespective of securing the necessary grant funding for the scheme, building work cannot commence until statutory approval for re-organisation of the schools concerned is received from the Welsh Government. Following publication of the Statutory Notice, if no objections are received the length of the statutory process will be much reduced. However, if just one objection is received the matter will be referred to the Welsh Government for determination which can be a lengthy process.

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

7.             As detailed in the body of the report.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

8.             There are no Legal Implications at this stage.

Crime and Disorder Implications

9.             There are no Crime and Disorder Implications.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

10.        There are no implications at this stage.

Corporate/Service Objectives

11.        The School Investment Programme is a corporate priority and improving the learning environment is a key priority within Education 2015.

Policy Framework and Budget

12.        The Capital Programme is a matter for Full Council.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

13.        Ward Member consultation is not applicable.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

14.        Lifelong Learning.

Background Papers

21st Century Schools Strategic Outline Programme

Contact Officer

Paula Ham, Head of Strategic Planning and Performance

01446 709161

Officers Consulted

Schools Investment Programme Board

Operational Manager, Property

School Organisation and Access Manager

Major Projects Manager, Project Management Unit

Responsible Officer:

Bryan Jeffreys, Director of Learning and Development

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