Agenda Item No. 5
The Vale of Glamorgan Council
Scrutiny Committee [Lifelong Learning]: 18 April 2016
Report of the Director of Learning and Skills
Progress on Proposals to Transform Secondary Education in West Barry
Purpose of the Report
To advise Members of progress to date and the next steps for the development of revised proposals to expand Welsh medium secondary school places and replace Barry and Bryn Hafren Comprehensive schools with mixed sex secondary schools on the same sites.
That Members note the progress made with the development of revised proposals to expand Welsh medium secondary school places and establish mixed sex English medium secondary schools in Barry.
That the Scrutiny Committee notes the timescale for reporting proposals to Cabinet and agrees to receive further reports for consideration.
Reasons for the Recommendations
The Scrutiny Committee is aware of the alternative proposals being developed for the expansion of Welsh medium secondary school places in the Vale of Glamorgan and the establishment of mixed sex English medium secondary schools in Barry on their current sites.
The Scrutiny Committee considers and comments on the revised proposals.
Cabinet considered a report on 5th October 2015 on the outcome of consultation on a proposal to transform secondary education in Barry:-
i. by establishing a new mixed English-medium comprehensive school;
ii. by expanding Ysgol Bro Morgannwg; and
iii. by relocation to create two distinct campuses for Welsh-medium and English-medium education.
Cabinet resolved not to publish a statutory public notice on the proposal but instead referred the proposal back to a new West Barry Secondary Schools Advisory Board 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.
The new Advisory Board including 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, was established in January 2016.
Relevant Issues and Options
It was agreed at the first meeting of the Advisory Board that development of a new proposal should be accelerated to minimise uncertainty and any consequential impact on the schools affected by the proposal. To this end, it was agreed that the Board would aim to conclude its work in April 2016 with a view to commencing consultation in the spring/summer.
At its meeting on 22 March 2016, the Advisory Board considered feedback from recent workshops involving pupils and staff about their ideas for the future development of the three schools. The benefits of mixed sex education, the importance of better buildings, the value of community involvement and the need to preserve aspects of the schools' heritage were all emphasised. The Board also reviewed the main points from the first replies from a survey of parents. The first 125 responses highlighted the importance of having mixed sex English medium schooling, of raising standards at Barry and Bryn Hafren schools, of the use of ICT in the classroom and the need for improved facilities.
Having considered the feedback from the engagement activity, the Board considered options for the future of the three schools and agreed in principle that the preferred option was to:
i) Expand Ysgol Bro Morgannwg on its current site with a new entrance from Port Road
ii) Build a brand new 11-18 mixed sex school on the site of Barry Comprehensive School
iii) Create a modern, 11-18 mixed sex school by refurbishing and modernising the Bryn Hafren buildings
Collaboration with Cardiff and the Vale College and Cardiff Metropolitan University will be strengthened to deliver high quality vocational education at the College and a joint sixth form providing academic courses at the English medium schools.
The next stage will be to continue with the workshop and survey work and to include the three governing bodies and the trade unions in these engagement activities. The Advisory Board will meet again to consider the further feedback from the workshops, survey and meetings. They will also discuss an indicative timetable and transition arrangements for implementing the preferred option. It is anticipated that a report on the revised proposals will be presented to Cabinet in June at which time Cabinet will decide whether or not to go ahead with further, formal consultation.
Statutory consultation must be carried out for at least 42 days (6 weeks), with at least 20 of these being school days. This being the case, 6 June is the latest date for reporting to Cabinet to seek approval to consult on a proposal if the consultation is to be completed during the summer 2016. A later date will necessitate starting consultation in September.
The proposal to expand Ysgol Bro Morgannwg on its current site would result in the school's capacity being increased by over 25% which requires a statutory process to be carried out. To establish two 11-18 mixed sex secondary schools, the statutory process would involve closing Barry and Bryn Hafren Comprehensive schools and opening two new 11-18 mixed sex schools. Unlike the initial re-organisation proposal, the two proposals are not interlinked and it is therefore appropriate to carry separate statutory processes. Consulting on two separate proposals would be clearer for consultees than consulting on a single, more complex proposal and would result in stakeholders being consulted on those issues which are most relevant to them.
Taking into account the capacity required to conduct two concurrent statutory proposals and the limited resources available, it is anticipated that the statutory processes would be carried out at different times. As the proposal to expand Ysgol Bro Morgannwg is the more straightforward of the proposals the aim would be to seek Cabinet approval to consult on the proposal on 6th June 2016 with the purpose of commencing consultation shortly afterwards. The intention would then be that a further report on the proposal to establish two English medium mixed sex secondary schools would be taken to Cabinet on 20th June for approval to commence consultation in September 2016. Subject to Cabinet approval, the proposed statutory timetables for both proposals are shown at Appendix A.
Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)
The cost of re-assessing options has been met from existing budgets to date. Further costs incurred on the development of proposals and subsequent consultation will be funded from the 2016/17 revenue budget for the Learning and Skills Directorate. The capital and revenue implications of the preferred options will be described in the two proposed Cabinet reports together with information about the human resources implications and the arrangements for engaging with and supporting staff who may be affected by the proposals.
Sustainability and Climate Change Implications
There are clear sustainability and climate change implications arising from the revised proposals. These include issues around redevelopment of premises and sites, journeys to and from school as well as the on-going financial sustainability of the schools concerned. Such issues will be assessed as part of the detailed work to further develop the proposals.
Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)
Powers for councils to develop school organisation proposals derive from the School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Act 2013 which was enacted on 1 October 2013.
In accordance with the statutory process outlined in the School Organisation Code 2013, a consultation report must be published within 13 weeks at the end of the period allowed for response to the consultation exercise.
Crime and Disorder Implications
There are no direct crime and disorder implications as a result of this report.
Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)
A key driver to 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. In developing a revised proposal attention has been given to ensuring that pupils of both sexes have access to a broad curriculum and to ensuring that sufficient Welsh medium secondary school places are available to meet demand.
Subject to Cabinet approval to carry out consultation on revised proposals, Equality Impact Assessments will be completed for consideration by Cabinet when deciding whether or not to publish statutory notices on the proposals.
The development of alternative proposals progresses the Corporate Plan well-being objective of raising overall standards of achievement and the specific action to 'progress the school modernisation programme by completing the new Llantwit Major Learning Community and the development of proposals for secondary school provision in Barry. (2017/18)'.
Policy Framework and Budget
This report is within the policy framework and budget.
Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)
Public consultation on proposals will be carried out with all prescribed consultees and interested parties in accordance with legislation.
Relevant Scrutiny Committee
Paula Ham: Head of Strategy, Community Learning and Resources
Mike Glavin Head of School Improvement and Inclusion
Trevor Baker Operational Manager Strategy and Resources
Jennifer Hill: Director of Learning and Skills