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Agenda Item No.

 

 

THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL

 

SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (LIFELONG LEARNING): 12 OCTOBER 2015

 

REFERENCE FROM CABINET: 5 OCTOBER 2015

 

C2931       PROPOSAL TO TRANSFORM SECONDARY EDUCATION IN BARRY (CSS) (SCRUTINY COMMITTEE – LIFELONG LEARNING) –

 

Cabinet was advised of the outcome of the recent consultation exercise undertaken to transform secondary education in Barry.

 

Secondary school education in Barry was presently provided by four schools:

 

•           Barry Comprehensive for boys aged 11-16 years, with a partially mixed 6th form.

•           Bryn Hafren Comprehensive for girls aged 11-16 years, with a partially mixed 6th form.

•           St Richard Gwyn Roman Catholic Comprehensive for boys and girls aged 11-16 years.

•           Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Morgannwg for boys and girls aged 3-18 years taught in the Welsh language. Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Talwg amalgamated with Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg on 01 September 2015.

 

A consultation to establish the extent of local support for the principle of co-education was undertaken in 2013. Cabinet considered the response to that consultation at its meeting on 16 December, 2013 (Cabinet Minute C2124) and resolved to establish a Project Board to begin a programme of work to develop detailed proposals for a change to co-educational secondary schooling in Barry. The Project Board developed a proposal, that also included the expansion of Welsh medium secondary education. This was presented to Cabinet for consideration on 23 February, 2015.

 

As a consequence, and following due consideration, Cabinet resolved that  consultation would take place from 11 May, 2015 for a period of 8 weeks to assess the level of support for the proposals to transform secondary education. The consultation exercise followed the requirements of the School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Act 2013 and School Organisation Code 2013.

 

Meetings were held with staff and governors at each of the 3 secondary schools and the primary schools included in the proposal, and drop in sessions were held on 2, 3 and 10 June 2015.

 

Also, appropriate consultation had taken place with prescribed consultees, young people of the four schools (Barry Comprehensive, Bryn Hafren, Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg and Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Talwg) affected by the proposal and with children attending the feeder primary schools linked to the English and Welsh medium secondary schools in Barry.

 

The consultation asked consultees to respond to four questions:

 

i. Do you support the proposal to create a new mixed comprehensive community school through the amalgamation of Barry and Bryn Hafren comprehensive schools from September 2017?

ii. Do you support the proposal to expand Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg to meet the increased demand for places?

iii. Do you support the proposal, subject to funding, to relocate Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg and Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Talwg to the current site of Bryn Hafren comprehensive school and the new mixed-sex comprehensive school to the current site of Barry comprehensive school, Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg and Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Talwg?

iv. Would your response to questions 1 and/or 2 change if funding was not available to create the two school campuses as described under question 3?

 

Of the 596 individual responses to question 1, 429 (72%) were opposed and 167 (28%) were in favour. Of the 590 individual responses to question 2, 299 (50.7%) were in support and 291 (49.3%) were opposed. Of the 595 individual responses to question 3, 488 (82%) were opposed and 107 (18%) were in favour. Of the 583 individual responses to question 4, 503 (86.3%) said their view would not change and 80 (13.7%) said that their view would change.

 

Of the 696 young people's individual responses to the proposal to create a new mixed sex community comprehensive school 422 (60.6%) were opposed, 173 (24.9%) were in favour and 101 (14.5%) did not know. Of the 685 young people's individual responses to the proposal to host the new mixed English medium comprehensive school on the current site of Barry Comprehensive School, Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg and Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Talwg, 477 (69.9%) were opposed, 101 (14.7%) were in favour and 107 (15.6%) did not know. Of the 180 young people's individual responses to the proposal to expand Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg, 54 (30%) were opposed, 86 (47.8%) were in favour and 40 (22.2%) did not know. Of the 186 young people's individual responses to the proposal to relocate Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg and Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Talwg to the current site of Bryn Hafren Comprehensive School, 110 (59.1%) were opposed, 46 (27.7%) were in favour and 30 (16.1%) did not know.

 

Key concerns relating to the proposal centered on:

 

•           the size of the proposed English-medium school and its effect on standards of education;

•           lack of information about the transition period 2017-2020 for the English-medium school;

•           the location of the expanded Welsh-medium secondary school;

•           uncertainty of securing funding from Welsh Government;

•           concern that there could be less breadth of subjects on offer at Key Stage 3, GCSE and A level at the proposed English-medium school.

 

For those in favour of the proposal the key themes were:

 

•           the need for mixed sex secondary education in Barry;

•           mixed sex education would support the social development of young people;

•           the need for expansion of Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg

 

A summary of all key themes, issues and comments raised by respondents and the Council's response was provided in the consultation report attached at Appendix B to the report.

 

In light of the opposition to key aspects of the Council's proposals, it appeared that it would not be possible to secure wide support to implement the current proposals. The response to the consultation indicated that although the majority of respondents were not in favour of the proposal to establish a single sex English medium school through the amalgamation of Barry and Bryn Hafren Comprehensive Schools, a significant proportion of these stated that they supported co-education and expressed a preference for option 3, being the provision of two separate English medium schools on separate sites and the expansion of Ysgol Bro Morgannwg on its current site.

 

In the earlier feasibility work which informed the published proposal, option 3 was not the preferred option for the following reasons:

 

•           it was considered that should the new mixed sex schools be based on the current Barry and Bryn Hafren Comprehensive School sites, one school could be perceived as being better than the other due to different levels of prosperity and deprivation in the immediate area;

•           it would not address surplus places which were high at both schools and represented a drain on resources;

•           Bro Morgannwg would be expanded on its current site which was considered to be limited in its capacity to accommodate a school of the required size and would be a costly option when compared to relocating the school to an alternative site. Within the consultation proposal, that site was highlighted as being the Bryn Hafren site.

 

Given the responses to the consultation, it was recommended that further work would be undertaken to consider whether there was merit in developing a revised proposal based on the principles of option 3. This would allow a re-evaluation of the potential disadvantages outlined above. This work would be undertaken by a new Barry Secondary Schools Transformation Group which would include the head teachers and chairs of governors of the three secondary schools, two head teacher representatives from feeder primary schools, representation from Further and Higher Education, the Cabinet Member for Children's Services and Schools, the Managing Director and Officers of the Learning and Skills Directorate.

 

The consultation document attached at Appendix A to the report included information about the current condition of the three secondary school buildings. It was highly relevant that the condition of the Barry Comprehensive School building was categorised as 'poor' and the work required to address issues was more extensive than that required to the other secondary school buildings included in the proposals.

 

At the meeting the Cabinet Member for Children and Schools Services thanked all those who responded to the consultation and commented that it was positive to receive such high levels of engagement. He further commented that from the start of the consultation process he and the Cabinet had made it clear that if there was no support for the proposals they would not be progressed.

 

In relation to the responses received he confirmed that a new programme board would be set up as outlined in paragraph 27 of the report and that further consultation would take place on any new proposals that were approved by Cabinet.

 

He concluded that the Council was committed to investing significant sums of money into education in Barry in the short term, and further highlighted that a capital fund would be set up for Barry Comprehensive School for improvements.

 

The Leader agreed with his Cabinet colleague in that the Cabinet wanted to consider the results of the consultations and was happy to go back to the drawing board to consider all future options.

 

However, the Leader did remind the Cabinet that the option put forward for a single school was agreed by the Head teachers of both schools at the time as outlined in previous reports. He and the Cabinet Member for Regeneration alluded to the success of Stanwell, a school of over 2000 pupils and the best performing in the Vale, this was also part of the reasons and consideration for the original plan.

 

This was a matter for Executive decision

 

RESOLVED –

 

(1)       T H A T the findings of the consultation exercise on the proposals to transform secondary education in Barry be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T it be agreed not to publish a statutory public notice but instead refer the proposal back to a new Barry Secondary School Transformation Board as set out in paragraph 27 of the report, to include the Director of Learning and Skills, with the aim of considering further proposals, having particular regard to principles contained within option 3, as outlined in the consultation document, for further consideration by Cabinet at a later date.

 

(3)       T H A T in regard of resolution 2 above, delegated authority be granted to the Director of Learning and Skills in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Children's Services and Schools to establish a new Barry Secondary School Transformation Board.

 

(4)       T H A T the development of a programme of work for Barry Comprehensive School be authorised to enable improvements to be made to the learning environment in the short term and that a further report on the proposed programme and estimated funding requirements be presented to Cabinet for further consideration in due course.

 

(5)       T H A T the report be referred to the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) for information.

 

Reasons for decisions

 

(1)       To ensure that the responses of the prescribed consultees were taken into account as part of the decision making process.

 

(2)       To not move to the stage of publication of a statutory notice as the proposal for transforming secondary education needs to be reconsidered in light of the responses from prescribed consultees as outlined in the consultation report attached at appendix A to the report and to consider a further proposal.

 

(3)       To allow the consideration of further proposals in line with resolution 2 above.

 

(4)       To address high priority building condition issues and to support implementation of the school's Post Inspection Action Plan.

 

(5)       To ensure the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) was aware of the outcome of consultation and of the intention to develop alternative proposals.

 

 

Attached as Appendix – Report to Cabinet – 5 OCTOBER 2015