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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Meeting: 18 November, 2013

 

Report of the Cabinet Member for Children's Services

 

Llantwit Learning Community: Proposal to Invest in New Primary Provision

 

Purpose of the Report

1.         To seek Cabinet approval to consult stakeholders on a proposal to create a new 420 place primary school as part of the Llantwit Learning Community and amalgamate Eagleswell and Llanilltud Fawr Primary Schools.

Recommendations

1.      Cabinet agrees its ambition to create a Llantwit Learning Community delivering major investment in Llantwit Major Comprehensive School and a new 420 place primary school on the adjacent site created from the amalgamation of Eagleswell and Llanilltud Fawr primary schools.

2.      Cabinet authorises consultation from 16th December 2013 for a period of 8 weeks on a proposal to create a new 420 place primary school as part of the Llantwit Learning Community and amalgamate Eagleswell and Llanilltud Fawr primary schools.

3.      Cabinet refers this report to Corporate Resources and Lifelong Learning Scrutiny Committees for consideration as part of the consultation process.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.         To further improve educational attainment in Llantwit Major for children and young people and the community.

2.         To assess the level of support for the development of the proposed Llantwit Learning Community to include primary provision by creating a new 420 place primary school from the amalgamation of Eagleswell and Llanilltud Fawr Primary Schools.

3.         The Lifelong Learning Scrutiny Committee is aware of progress with school reorganisation.

Background

2.         The aims of the Welsh Government's 21st Century Schools Programme are:

·           Learning environments for children and young people in Wales aged from 3-19 that will enable the successful implementation of strategies for school improvement and better educational outcomes;

·           A sustainable education system through better use of resources to improve the efficiency and cost effectiveness of the education estate which enhances local public service provision; and

·           A 21st century schools standard for all schools in Wales which also reduces the recurrent costs, energy consumption and carbon emissions.

3.         In response to the 21st Century Schools initiative the Vale was required to submit a 21st Century Schools Strategic Outline Programme (SOP) to the Welsh Government in October 2010 which set out our plans for meeting the aims of the programme up to 2020/21.   These plans included the Llantwit Learning Community comprising a new 1,050 place Llantwit Major Comprehensive School, a new 420 place English medium school formed from the amalgamation of Eagleswell and Llanilltud Fawr primary schools and a 210 place Welsh Medium school to expand Ysgol Gymraeg Dewi Sant. Whilst these schools would retain separate identities they would be co-located and benefit from the use of shared facilities.

4.         Due to reduced levels of capital funding the Welsh Government subsequently cut the level of grant available for 21st Century School Schemes from 75% of the cost to 50% and authorities were required to submit revised programmes. In light of decreased funding it was only possible to include a reduced scheme for Llantwit Major Comprehensive School and the expansion of Ysgol Gymraeg Dewi Sant. The expansion of Ysgol Gymraeg Dewi Sant is being undertaken as a separate scheme over 2015/16 and 2016/17. The reduced Llantwit Major Comprehensive School scheme allows for the refurbishment of existing buildings to a good standard and the removal of those buildings which are in the poorest condition. However, it will not address the issue of there being a number of separate buildings across the site which presents a challenge to effective buildings and facilities management, timetabling of lessons and management of pupils between lessons.

5.         Funding of £12,476,000 is built in to the current capital programme for the refurbishment and remodelling of Llantwit Major Comprehensive School between 2015/16 - 2017/18. Due to concerns over the condition of the primary school buildings, particularly the Llanilltud Fawr School building which will need to be replaced in the medium term, feasibility work on the Llantwit Learning Community has continued.

Relevant Issues and Options

6.         There are three primary schools in Llantwit Major which serve the town and surrounding area.  St Illtyd's Primary School has 379 places and is situated near to the centre of Llantwit Major. Llanilltud Fawr Primary School which has 210 places is located next to the comprehensive school on Ham Lane East. Eagleswell Primary, a   210 place school, is situated in the centre of a housing estate to the north of Llantwit Major.

7.         Data taken from the January 2013 Pupil Level Annual School Census shows a high degree of movement between the catchment areas of the primary schools in Llantwit Major and the surrounding area. The data for Llanilltud Fawr and Eagleswell shown in Appendix A| to this report shows a large percentage of children living in the catchment areas of Llanilltud Fawr and Eagleswell attend schools outside of the catchment area (67% Eagleswell, 50% Llanilltud Fawr). The data also shows movement between the two catchment areas with 45 children attending Llanilltud Fawr from the Eagleswell catchment area and 8 attending Eagleswell from the Llanilltud Fawr catchment area.  

8.         Overall performance at Eagleswell and Llanilltud Fawr primary schools is good. Outcomes in the Foundation Phase Indicator are good and compare well with similar schools. Outcomes at the end of Key Stage 2 are also good. Standards in the Core Subject Indicator (English, Maths and Science) for both schools are in the top two quarters when compared with similar schools.

9.         The school site, its buildings and grounds, provides the infrastructure which supports learning and development. School buildings should inspire learning. There is clear evidence that physical elements in the school environment can be shown to have discernible effects on teachers and learners. An inadequate learning environment can have detrimental effects on concentration, mood, well-being, attendance and, ultimately, attainment.

10.      The main building of Llanilltud Fawr primary school was built in the early 1950’s by the Bristol Aircraft Company diversifying after World War II and is aluminium framed and clad. Following structural failure of the roof in other examples of this type of structure, regular structural inspections are carried out to provide early warning of deterioration of the building. The school also consists of a separate nursery and reception class block along with two demountables. The single classroom demountable is in relatively good condition, the other demountable provides three interlinked classrooms and is in poor condition despite repairs carried out by the school. In addition, the main block roof and the heating boiler will require renewal within the next five years.

11.      Eagleswell Primary School was built in the early 1970’s and comprised separate infant and junior schools which were amalgamated in 2000 and physically linked via a covered corridor. The buildings are generally in an average condition but there are numerous leaks to the flat roof, upgrading works are required to the heating and toilets and a double demountable classroom is nearing the end of its effective life. The school is located on a large site measuring approximately six acres, with the school buildings located in the centre of the site which limits the use of the land available. The school has a high number of surplus places which was partly addressed by the relocation of classes from a double demountable classroom into the main school building.

12.      The Llanilltud Fawr Primary School building requires replacement in the medium term and Eagleswell requires upgrading. Reduced capital funding effectively removes the option of addressing the condition issues of both school buildings. Furthermore, this option would not fully meet the aims of the 21st Century Schools Programme (refer to paragraph 2).

13.      Consideration has been given to the option of building a new 420 place school on the Eagleswell site to replace the current school buildings of both schools which would be funded from the capital receipt generated from the sale of the Llanilltud Fawr site. Assessment of this option revealed that the estimated capital receipt would be insufficient to cover the cost of the scheme. In addition, wider efficiencies which could be achieved through the Llantwit Learning Community as a result of sharing a site and coordinated facilities management would not be realised. 

14.      The current scheme is a remodelled Llantwit Major Comprehensive, to repair Eagleswell using Asset Renewal funding and build a new Llanilltud Fawr on the existing site as part of 21st Century Schools Band B funding which is due to commence in 2020. There is no capital receipt available under this scheme and there is also the risk with this option that the Llanilltud Fawr building will fail before Band B funding becomes available in 2020 at the earliest.

15.      An option that has been considered would be to proceed with an enhanced Llantwit Major Comprehensive scheme, repair Eagleswell using Asset Renewal funding and build a new Llanilltud Fawr Primary on the existing site as part of 21st Century Schools Band B funding. This option is not considered affordable because additional costs of the enhanced Llantwit Comprehensive scheme and new Llanilltud Fawr Primary would be incurred without a contribution from a capital receipt resulting from the sale of the Eagleswell site. There is also the risk with this option that the Llanilltud Fawr building will fail before the Band B funding becomes available.

16.      The favoured option is the construction of an amalgamated 420 place school built on the existing Llanilltud Fawr Primary/Llantwit Major Comprehensive sites. The provision of a new primary school would be part of a wider scheme including the comprehensive school which would be let as one contract. As stated in paragraph 4 of this report, £12,476,000 is built in to the current capital programme for the refurbishment and remodelling of Llantwit Major Comprehensive School between 2015/16 - 2017/18. The new scheme would include an enhanced option for Llantwit Major Comprehensive School as outlined in paragraph 15 below thus recreating the vision of the earlier Llantwit Learning Community scheme.      

17.      The enhanced £15,000,000 Llantwit Major Comprehensive School Scheme would include the refurbishment of the main school building to a high standard and replacement of all the remaining buildings with one new building using a pattern book design as has been used for Ysgol Nant Talwg in Barry.

18.      A reinstated Llantwit Learning Community will enable the schools and the community to access a wide range of new facilities.  Pupils will be educated in high quality modern buildings. The improved learning environment will support the successful implementation of strategies for school improvement and better educational outcomes.  

19.      Given the timescale for the Comprehensive School scheme (2015/16 - 2017/18) and the requirement to let both schemes as one contract, the new primary school building would not be provided before September 2017.  In order for the schools to fully prepare for coming together in one building in 2017 it is proposed that the schools amalgamate whilst on separate sites under a single governing body and headteacher from September 2015. If approved, the details of how the school would operate over two sites, common policies and procedures and the staffing structure for the new school would be developed by the temporary governing body and Headteacher which would be put in place in advance of the amalgamation.

20.      In order to amalgamate Eagleswell and Llanilltud Fawr Primary Schools the Council will need to comply with the statutory process detailed in the School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Act 2013 and outlined below.

21.      A consultation document must be provided to all interested parties allowing a minimum of six weeks to respond, the consultation period must include a minimum of 20 school days. Meetings will be held during the consultation period to provide additional information as requested.

22.      Within three months of the closing date for the consultation period a consultation report will be published including a summary of comments received and the Council's response to these comments.

23.      The Council must then decide whether or not to proceed with the proposal within six months of the end of the consultation period.

24.      If following the consultation process the Council decides that the amalgamation of Eagleswell and Llanilltud Fawr Primary Schools is to be progressed a statutory notice is published providing 28 days for objections. The notice must be published on a school day and with 15 school days included within the notice period.

25.      If objections are received, an objection report must be published with a summary of the objections and the Council's response within 28 days of the end of the objection period. Under the new legislation coming into force on the 1 October 2013 as the proposal does not relate to 6th form education the Local Authority can determine the proposal if objections are received.

26.      Appendix B| sets out the anticipated timescale for this process if approved by Cabinet.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

27.      The proposed costs and funding of the current approach and favoured option are set out in Appendix C|. There are a number of risks associated with the funding of the options set out in Appendix C|, these are based around the risk of additional grant funding not being awarded by WG or awarded at a reduced contribution. The funding of the favoured option also assumes that a contribution will be received from a capital receipt as a result of the sale of the Eagleswell site, there are risks associated with the value of the contribution. Also included within Appendix C are various approaches to mitigate the risks through Prudential Borrowing, application for additional grant funding under Band B of the 21st Century Schools Programme in addition to the increased use of receipts from the sale of surplus school sites.

28.      Amalgamating the two schools would achieve revenue savings in the region of £210,000 per annum due to reductions in staffing costs and efficiencies resulting from economies of scale. Net savings will be reinvested in Education ensuring that available resources are maximised to secure improved outcomes for all children and young people in the Vale of Glamorgan. Redundancy costs have not been included in the above figure. The saving would not be fully realised until the amalgamated school transfers to the new school building. The Learning Community would benefit from shared facilities with further efficiencies being realised through coordinated facilities management.

29.      The estimated cost of a 420 place school with nursery using pattern book design is £4.75M. The enhanced Llantwit major Comprehensive School scheme (refer to paragraph 17) would cost an estimated £15M bringing the estimated total cost of the scheme to £19,750,000.  £12,476,000 is built in to the current capital programme for the remodelling of Llantwit Major Comprehensive School between 2015/16 - 2017/18.  The Eagleswell site would be released for a capital receipt, which will be retained in the School Investment Programme as previously agreed by Cabinet.  

30.      If additional capital funding to deliver the Llantwit Learning Community were to be realised through the sale of the Eagleswell school site the sale process would need to be carefully considered. Traditionally the site would be sold and payment made when the site is transferred to the new owner. In this scenario temporary accommodation would be required to provide schooling to the pupils attending Eagleswell primary whilst the new school is built. The supply, installation, hire and removal of temporary accommodation will be a substantial additional cost that will not provide any long term benefit for the Local Authority.

31.      Two alternative approaches have been used by other Local Authorities to avoid the costs incurred by the need for temporary accommodation. Either the site could be sold in exchange for the construction of a new school with the land being handed over only when the new school is complete. Alternatively payment for the site could be required in advance of the site being released to allow the new school to be built whilst the pupils remain in the Eagleswell school building. For both of these options the Local Authority would receive a lower capital receipt to cover the financing costs incurred by the developer. These options would however reduce the risk for the Local Authority associated with the sale of sites when the actual sum achieved from the sale is not known until after the Council has paid for the new building to be funded from the sale.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

32.      New build elements of the scheme will meet BREAM excellent rating significantly reducing the running costs and carbon emissions arising from the buildings. There would be community involvement in the development in the Llantwit Learning Community and provision of community facilities. Community benefits including job creation and work experience must be demonstrated/maximised for all schemes. 

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

33.      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.

34.      If approved, the statutory notice to amalgamate Eagleswell and Llanilltud Fawr Primary Schools will comply with the requirements of The Schools Standards and Organisation (Wales) Act 2013 and the School Organisation Code, Statutory Code Document no. 006/2013.

35.      The School Standards & Organisation (Wales) Act 2013 requires that before school organisation proposals are published they must first be subject to consultation:

·           Be undertaken when proposals are at a formative stage;

·           Include sufficient reasons and information for particular proposals to enable proper consideration and response;

·           Provide adequate time for consultation and response; and

·           Ensure that the product of consultation is conscientiously taken into account when the ultimate decision is taken.

36.      When bringing forward statutory proposals the proposers must publish a consultation document.  The code sets out information regarding the timing of the issue of the consultation document and the time for responses.

Crime and Disorder Implications

37.      There are no direct crime and disorder implications as a result of this report.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

38.      The Llantwit Learning Community would provide pupils and the community with access to a wide range of facilities. A key driver will be to improve school effectiveness including driving up standards of teaching and attainment in all schools, improving 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.

Corporate/Service Objectives

39.      The amalgamation of Eagleswell and Llanilltud Fawr schools 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.

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

Policy Framework and Budget

41.      This report is a matter for Executive decision.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

42.      Local Ward Members have been consulted.  They have considered the proposals and agree to the new primary provision.

43.      Consultation has taken place with relevant Officers. 

44.      Public consultation with all interested parties will be carried out in accordance with legislation.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

45.      Corporate Resources.

Background Papers

None

 

Contact Officer:

Paula Ham

Head of Strategic Planning and Performance

 

Officers Consulted

Lynette Jones: Head of School Improvement and Inclusion

Jane Wade: Operational Manager, Property

Mark Haynes: School Planning and Buildings Manager

Mike Matthews: Principal School Planning Officer

Robert Jones: Consultation Officer

Gemma Jones: Accountant          

 

Responsible Officer:

Jennifer Hill

Chief Learning and Skills Officer