Top

Top

Agenda Item No. 11

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning): 9 December 2013

 

Report of the Chief Learning and Skills Officer

 

School Reorganisation proposals for Welsh Medium Primary Schooling in Barry

 

Purpose of the Report

1.             To provide additional information and supporting data as requested by Scrutiny Committee in relation to the proposal to expand Ysgol Gwaun y Nant to meet increasing parental demand.

Recommendations

1.             That having received additional supporting data and information, the Scrutiny Committee supports the Cabinet decision to expand Ysgol Gwaun y Nant to meet increasing parental demand for Welsh Medium education in Barry.

2.             That the recommendations of the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) be also referred to the Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) for its meeting on the 10 December 2013.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.             To confirm that Scrutiny Committee accepts the rationale behind Cabinet's decision.

2.             In order to inform the Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) of the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) recommendations.

Background

2.             A Cabinet report proposing the expansion of Ysgol Gwaun y Nant to meet increasing parental demand was agreed by Cabinet on the 23 September 2013 (minute C2029 refers). This report was referred to Lifelong Learning Scrutiny Committee on 14 October 2013 and Corporate Resources Scrutiny Committee on 15 October 2013 for their consideration. After considering the Cabinet report the Scrutiny Committees requested a further report before December 2013 to provide additional information relating to the approach, detailed data and justification for the decision.

3.             The School Places Review Group was convened between September and December 2012 and reported to the Lifelong Learning Scrutiny Committee on 21 January 2013. Having considered all information available at the time, the School Places Review Group put forward options to reduce surplus capacity across the Vale including in Barry.

4.             When this review was being undertaken Cabinet had made the decision not to progress the draft deposit Local Development Plan (LDP) and the form of the revised LDP had not been confirmed. Whilst it was anticipated that the revised LDP could allocate sites for a similar number of homes as the draft deposit LDP the size and distribution of the housing allocation sites was not known. Due to this uncertainty it was not possible to include potential housing developments when considering future demand for specific schools. At this time the opinion was that surplus places should not be retained due to the on-going cost to the Authority of maintaining these empty places. If pupils arising from future housing developments could not be accommodated in local schools a S106 contribution would be requested from the developer to meet this increased demand.

5.             Between the end of January and July 2013 officers from Learning and Skills and Planning held a series of meetings to discuss the revised LDP and the potential impact on catchment schools serving potential housing allocation sites. These meetings confirmed the housing allocation sites that would be included within the revised LDP for consultation.

6.             Following these discussions with Planning the view about S106 contributions from developers changed. It is now acknowledged that there would be very strong opposition from developers if S106 funding is requested to provide additional accommodation to replace recently removed capacity.

7.             The revised draft deposit LDP allocated sites for 3912 units in Barry, Wenvoe and Rhoose including windfall sites. Applying the Authority’s pupil yield factors to this number of dwellings will generate in the region of 391 Nursery children, 1088 primary children and 970 secondary age children.

Relevant Issues and Options

8.             In May 2013 a re-assessment of pupil projections including potential LDP housing allocation sites was carried out. This data in included in Appendix A.

9.             It is not known when homes on the allocated housing sites will be built and occupied as this is wholly dependant upon the developers for each site. In order to consider the full impact of the allocated housing sites on schools the pupil projections assume that all developments will be completed by 2018. Pupils arising from each development have been allocated to their catchment school and the next nearest school if the catchment school is at capacity. This approach cannot take account of parental preference and should be considered as an indicative scenario. This demonstrates that overall surplus capacity within the Primary sector in Barry is forecast to reduce from 12.40% to 2.67% in 2018 if all proposed housing developments are completed.

10.        This reduction in surplus capacity arising from population growth alone demonstrates the need to retain all existing schools and expand Welsh Medium provision in Barry as approved by Cabinet.

11.        The pupil projections included within Appendix A show that an additional 73 places (25 At Ysgol Gwaun y Nant, 4 at Ysgol Sant Baruc, 34 at Ysgol Sant Curig and 10 at Ysgol Nant Talwg) will be required in the existing Welsh medium schools by 2018 if all potential housing developments are included within the projection. The pupil projections for Welsh Medium schools are calculated using the current percentage of parents expressing a preference for Welsh Medium reception places. In 2013 16% of parents expressed a preference for Welsh Medium education at reception level; this has increased from 10.2% in 2006. This growth in the popularity of Welsh Medium is anticipated to continue which could result in a higher number of children attending Welsh Medium education than is currently forecast.

12.        In order to meet this increased demand in Barry a number of different options were considered before arriving at the preferred option.

13.        A new 210 place school could be built in Barry on a new site but no suitable sites were identified under the remit of Learning and Skills.

14.        An alternative approach used by other Local Authorities is to utilise surplus capacity within existing schools, however the pupil projections demonstrate that this is not a long term option in Barry.

15.        The expansion of Ysgol St Baruc to 420 places is not achievable due to the confined school site which cannot be increased in size due to surrounding buildings.

16.        Ysgol St Curig has capacity for 420 children but has insufficient grounds to provide sports provision to meet the needs of 630 children.

17.        Ysgol Nant Talwg is located on the same site as Ysgol Bro Morgannwg; building work on a 210 place school started in November 2013 and the new school is due to open in September 2014. The further expansion on Ysgol Nant Talwg is not favoured as this could jeopardise the possible future expansion of Ysgol Bro Morgannwg to meet increased numbers of Welsh Medium secondary school pupils.

18.        Ysgol Gwaun y Nant and Oak Field Primary occupy a joint site totalling 29,300m2 which exceeds current area guidelines and has sufficient area to accommodate the expansion of Ysgol Gwaun y Nant to 420 from 210 places.

19.        Research suggests that the quality of where we learn affects the quality of how we learn. To have the greatest impact the learning environment should support and enhance the learning process, encourage innovation and be a tool for learning.  Improvements to the learning environment of both Ysgol Gwaun y Nant and Oak Field Primary school would be delivered through the preferred option.

20.        The location of the new Oak Field Primary school will be determined following consultation with both Ysgol Gwaun y Nant and Oak Field Primary to fully consider the educational needs and aspirations of both schools and the local community. At present no decision has been made regarding the location of the new school on site.

21.        The expansion of Welsh Medium education is being proposed to meet increasing parental demand in the Barry area. The Authority has a legal duty to meet this demand and will need to find alternative schools to meet this demand if Ysgol Gwaun y Nant is not expanded. Ysgol Gwaun y Nant and Oak Field Primary have occupied the same site since 2000 and the Authority has no evidence that this co-location has had a detrimental effect on either school.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

22.        The preferred option, to build a new pattern book design school for Oak Field Primary and remodel the existing school to increase capacity to 420 places for Ysgol Gwaun Y Nant is estimated to cost £3,645,000 which can be met from the existing funding available within the Capital Programme. This is approximately £430,000 less than the cost to remodel and extend Ysgol Gwaun y Nant.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

23.        The new school for Oak Field Primary will meet BREEAM excellent rating to minimise carbon emissions arising from the new school.

 Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

24.        The Council will be in breach of its statutory obligations under the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 if parental preference regarding choice of education cannot be provided.

Crime and Disorder Implications

25.        There are no crime and disorder implications arising from this matter.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

26.        The expansion of Ysgol Gwaun y Nant will meet the forecast demand for Welsh Medium primary education within the Barry area.

Corporate/Service Objectives

27.        The expansion of Ysgol Gwaun y Nant and new building for Oak Field Primary 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.

28.        The schemes detailed in this report contribute towards service outcome 3, objective 9 'Learners have access to an appropriate range of quality provision' of the Learning and Skills Directorate Service Plan 2013/17.

Policy Framework and Budget

29.        This is a matter for executive decision by Cabinet.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

30.        Ward Member consultation has taken place to which no adverse comments have been received to date.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

31.        Lifelong Learning and Corporate Resources

Background Papers

None

Contact Officer

Mark Haynes                         School Organisation and Buildings Manager

Officers Consulted

Paula Ham                             Head of Strategic Planning and Performance

Mike Matthews                      Principle Strategic Planning Officer

Responsible Officer:

Jennifer Hill                            Chief Learning and Skills Officer

Share on facebook Like us on Facebook