Strategic School Improvement Programme - Proposal to Establish an English-Medium 3 - 11 School to replace Alltwen, Godre'rgraig and Llangiwg Prmary Schools all of which will be Discontinued 31st Augsut 2024 (enclosed within Cabinet Papers)
The Chief Executive, Karen Jones, provided information with regards to the delay of the issuing of the consultation report, subsequent to the tape recording which appeared on social media. The decision to delay the consultation report was taken to ensure some additional due diligence on the processes that the Council has undertaken in bringing forward the advice. The decision-making processes concerning the school reorganisation programme were considered as part of this additional work. Following this work a report was produced. The conclusion from the report indicates that the Council can take all assurances regarding its systems and processes. Some recommendations have been made within the report and this includes that meetings are accurately recorded so that openness and transparency are maintained.
The report has been shared with the Auditor General who has concluded that he does not wish to undertake specific audit work at this present time. He has acknowledged that there are some procedural items which need to be addressed and he has asked for sight of the action plan in response to the recommendations. He has also advised that when the Public Services Ombudsman work is complete he will look at the findings at that time.
The Public Services Ombudsman has advised that he is not aware of any issue that will stop the report on the agenda being discussed at the meeting. He has also advised that the focus of the remainder of his investigations will focus on the member directly and not on the systemic or broader issues.
The Director of Education, Andrew Thomas, was invited to provide an overview on the item for discussion. Mr Thomas provided a brief update with regards to two recent correspondence received, asking for reconsideration of the recommendation within the report. Mr Thomas advised that the letters did not ask to be circulated to Members. However Members will be provided with a copy of the response to be sent to both organisations, irrespective of the outcome from the meeting.
Members were advised that the report indicates the decision is subject to a three day call in, however it is intended for immediate implementation. The Statutory Notice reflects the date. The reason for this is that if Members were in agreement to progress the item, then the full statutory 28 days’ notice is all within term time.
Mr Thomas categorically stated that there was no intention to close any other schools, other than the three mentioned and attached to the report to be discussed.
Mr Thomas went through some of the issues identified in the consultation. Members were provided with a rationale for the chosen site of the proposed school. Mr Thomas went through the size requirements of the new school with the pupil size indicated and highlighted that the proposed area already had outdoor playing fields etc. so these would not need to be sourced. Further, there are no other sites within the area required to accommodate a school of the proposed size.
There are health and well-being benefits identified ... view the full minutes text for item 3
Strategic School Improvement Programme - Proposal to establish an english medium 3 - 11 school to replace, Alltwen, Godre'rgraig and Llangiwg Primary Schools. (enclosed within Cabinet Papers)
The Strategic School Improvement Programme was presented to Members, which subject to Cabinet approval, would consult on a proposal to establish an English-medium school for 3-11 year olds to replace Alltwen, Godre'rgraig and Llangiwg Primary Schools; the proposed school would include a specialist learning support centre and would be in a new build premises to accommodate pupils from the current catchment areas of the three mentioned primary schools, all of which would close on 31st August 2024. Officers explained that one of the main purposes of the consultation was to obtain the comments and concerns of the stakeholders associated with those schools, in order to take forward the best possible solution in the valley areas.
It was proposed that the new school would be built on land in Council ownership at Parc Ynysderw Pontardawe and it would form part of the learning, health and wellbeing community campus made up of Cwmtawe Community School and Pontardawe Leisure Centre.
Officers emphasised that the staff, pupils and governors of Cwmtawe Community School were not materially involved in this proposal. It was mentioned in the report that previously Neath Port Talbot Council’s 21st Century Schools Band B Strategic Outline Plan submitted a proposal to Welsh Government for a new build middle school for 3-16 year olds; however, following informal discussions with stakeholders, including governors and all the schools in the valley, there was a wide spread agreement that a new primary school was needed and there was no support for a 3-16 model. It was therefore decided that the scheme should be amended to a 3-11 primary school model.
A discussion took place in relation to the finer details of the school, which included the following:
· It was stated that the proposed school would accommodate 630 full time primary pupils and 140 part time nursery pupils; this would be the largest primary school in Neath Port Talbot;
· Officers mentioned that the backlog maintenance elements that would be eradicated included over £2million for removal of the primary schools and over £1.2million associated with the swimming pool;
· The case for the Learning Support Centre (LSC) was detailed to be created following the completion of reviews on the number and type of planned places and assessment provision across Neath Port Talbot; it was identified that there was a need for extra places in the areas of Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Social, Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties (SEBD). It was proposed that the new school included a LSC for up to 16 primary aged pupils with a statement of ASD;
· The report highlighted that there would be a new swimming pool established and that it would replace the existing Pontardawe Swimming Pool; it was expressed to Welsh Government that the new pool would provide an additional facility alongside the leisure centre, revitalising and increasing the health and well-being facilities in the Swansea Valley area;
· In relation to transport, it was noted that most pupils associated with the proposal lived within 2 miles of the new site and ... view the full minutes text for item 3
ERW Regional School Improvement Consortium (enclosed within Cabinet Papers)