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Agenda Item No. 10

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning): 8th February 2016

 

Report of the Director of Learning and Skills

 

School Place Planning in the Vale of Glamorgan

 

Purpose of the Report

  1. To provide an annual update to members on the progress made by the Vale of Glamorgan Council with regard to reducing surplus school places.

Recommendation

Members consider the Council's performance on school place planning and the progress made to reduce the number of surplus places since 2012.

Reason for the Recommendation

Members are aware of the measures taken to manage school places across the Vale of Glamorgan and of current performance against set targets.

Background

  1. Following the publication of an Estyn report on surplus places in schools in Wales in May 2012, the Minister for Education and Skills contacted Cabinet Members for Education to point out that there was a higher than necessary level of school places across Wales which was resulting in a drain on resources which could be better used to improve the quality of education for all learners.
  2. A target was established for the Vale of Glamorgan to reduce surplus places to 12.9% in the secondary sector and 10.19% for the primary sector. The Minister stated he would consider using the powers available to him under Schedule 7 to the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 should insufficient progress be made against agreed targets. A statement was provided by the Council in 2012 and subsequently approved by the Minister, projecting a reduction of surplus places in the primary sector from 16.4% to 10.19% in September 2016 and an increase from 4.76% to 12.86% in the secondary sector by September 2016. The statement also set out the position in terms of schools with a significant number of surplus places (over 25%), increasing demand for Welsh medium school places and plans to reduce surplus capacity in some areas through school reorganisation.
  3. In 2014 progress was reviewed by the Minister and progress in a number of areas was acknowledged, including innovative development and construction initiatives, school amalgamations, and proposals to meet demand for Welsh medium education in the primary sector
  4. This paper serves to review progress over the past year and demonstrate on-going commitment and progress with the overall reduction of surplus places in-line with established targets.

Relevant Issues and Options

  1. Appendix A of this report shows the percentage surplus capacity /oversubscription for all Vale schools as at the January 2015 Pupil Level Annual School Census (PLASC).
  2. Projections as of January 2014 were revised for January 2015, demonstrating a greater than expected increase in surplus capacity for the secondary sector, and an overall reduction in surplus capacity for the primary sector, in excess of its target.
  3. At January 2015, secondary schools saw an increase in surplus places to 16.06% compared to 14.9% in January 2014, and will not meet the target of 12.9% at the January 2016 Pupil Level Annual School Census (PLASC) date which is anticipated to be around 17%.
  4. Four secondary schools: Barry Comprehensive, Llantwit Comprehensive, Ysgol Bro Morgannwg and Bryn Hafren Comprehensive had in excess of 25% surplus capacity in January 2015. Barry Comprehensive and Bryn Hafren Comprehensive schools have seen an increase in the number of parents of pupils in the feeder primary schools applying to other schools at the year 6 transfer stage. Projections that surplus places at Ysgol Bro Morgannwg would fall to under 25% in 2016 have not been achieved as a result of lower numbers than anticipated entering the 6th form. The current surplus capacity of the school is 315 (27.37%).
  5. Surplus capacity at Llantwit Comprehensive School will be reduced as a result of the school's redevelopment. The new school building is scheduled to open in September 2017 with the reduction in capacity and surplus places being reflected in the January 2018 Pupil Level Annual School Census. A revised proposal to establish secondary school co-education in Barry is currently being developed. It is expected that this will address surplus capacity at Barry and Bryn Hafren secondary schools. The need to expand places in the Welsh medium secondary sector to meet future demand is also under consideration.
  6. From 2018 onwards, secondary school pupil numbers are expected to increase as existing larger primary feeder cohorts enter the secondary system together with pupils emanating from ongoing housing development at Barry Waterfront, Rhoose and Wenvoe.
  7. As of January 2015, surplus places across primary schools were down to an average of 10.08% compared to 11% in January 2014, comparing favourably with the target of 10.19%. Projections for 2016 indicate that this trend will continue with surplus places reducing to less than the Welsh Government guideline level of a maximum of 10% in each sector.
  8. Three primary schools, Holton Primary, Oakfield and Ysgol Gymraeg Dewi Sant had in excess of 25% surplus capacity. The number of schools in this category has reduced from four last year as a result of a reduction in surplus places at Jenner Park from 27.84% to 21.98% that will further reduce after a recent review of the school capacity.
  9. Projections suggest that Holton Primary and Oakfield Primary schools will see a reduction in surplus places to 14% by September 2016 and 18% by September 2018, respectively. Ysgol Gymraeg Dewi Sant will see a reduction to around 18% by September 2019. Ysgol Dewi Sant opened as a seed school in September 2011 with a reception class only and is expanding incrementally over seven years as year groups work their way through the school. The school will be operating to a full age range of a reception class to year 6 in September 2017.
  10. The expansion of Welsh medium education is continuing in the Barry area. Ysgol Gwaun y Nant is expanding incrementally by 30 places each year from September 2015 over a seven year period to meet demand. Projections show that this expansion will not impact on the Council's ability to maintain surplus capacity in the primary sector at less than 10% in the medium term.
  11. Progress has continued over the last year on the management of school places. Actions required are not prescriptive and are largely focussed on a number of areas including:
  • Keeping provision under review and ensuring a good balance of supply and demand in the future;
  • Continue with prudent and effective strategic planning;
  • Ensure robust administration of admissions which together with the changes that have been made should help to ensure a balance of supply and demand;
  • Any proposals for change, including school organisation proposals, should contribute to the provision of sustainable schools which deliver the best possible educational experiences for children and young people.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

  1. Although there are no resource implications arising directly from this report it should be noted that the reduction of surplus capacity in schools enables school funding to be more usefully directed towards teaching and learning and represents more effective use of available resources.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

  1. The reduction of surplus places and operational efficiencies resulting from school reorganisation and investment in school buildings has improved the sustainability of a number of schools.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

  1. There are no legal implications directly arising from this report.

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. A key driver of all school reorganisation proposals is to improve educational outcomes for children and young people in all phases and helping to narrow the inequalities in achievement between advantaged and disadvantaged groups and individuals. The release of funding through school reorganisation enables better targeting of available resources to achieve these aims.

Corporate/Service Objectives

  1. The effective management of school places is linked with 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.

Policy Framework and Budget

  1. The recommendations in this report are within existing policy framework and budget.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

  1. Not applicable.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

  1. Lifelong Learning

Background Papers

None

Contact Officer:

Trevor Baker

Operational Manager, Strategy and Resources

Officers Consulted

Paula Ham, Head of Strategy, Community Learning and Resources

Anne Brown, School Organisation Manager

Mike Matthews, Principal School Planning Officer

Mike Glavin, Head of School Improvement and Inclusion

Responsible Officer:

Jennifer Hill

Director of Learning and Skills

 

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