The Corporate Director – Education and Family Support, briefly introduced the above report on the feedback from the Phase 4 public consultation of the review into post-16 provision across BCBC. He then invited the Specialist Officer for post-16 to go through the detail of the report.
He explained that the purpose of the report was to provide feedback on the public consultation that was held between 2/12/2019 and 21/02/2020 on Phase 4 of the review into post-16 education provision across BCBC. He stated that the consultation put forward three options for consideration and these were described in paragraph 3.2. of the report.
The Specialist Officer for post-16 reported that the public consultation was a robust exercise comprising an online survey, workshop sessions with 1,235 learners in schools and college, public meetings for parents/carers and engagement sessions with staff and governors in schools and the college (341 in attendance).
In referring to the results of the online survey the Specialist Officer for post-16, noted that Option 3, the retention of sixth forms in all secondary schools, was the most popular option, with 75% of respondents strongly agreeing with this option and 85% ranking it as their first choice preference.
Focusing on paragraph 3.7.1 of the report, he pointed out to Cabinet how the results from different school settings were displayed, so that a more nuanced view of the data was available as well as the feedback from Bryntirion and Coleg Cymunedol y Dderwen, two schools which had provided a particularly high proportion of respondents. In addition to the percentage breakdown of responses this section also provided the top three written comment feedbacks from each of the suggested outcomes.
He also pointed out that although in Option 2, outcome B there was a 47% ‘strongly disagree’ amongst all respondents, by contrast those from Pencoed Comprehensive School were 72% in ‘agreement’ with the proposal related to the new college STEAM academy on the Pencoed campus.
The Specialist Officer for post-16, explained that in paragraph 3.8 of the report, he had provided a detailed breakdown of the results of the surveys completed by learners in the workshop sessions so that Cabinet members could compare and contrast the range of responses across all secondary school settings. Furthermore, paragraphs 3.8.1 to 3.8.10 of the report, provided details on the relative proportion of learners from the different key stages who had engaged in the workshops.
In paragraph 3.9, the Officer highlighted the main themes that emerged from both the written correspondence received by BCBC and views expressed in the open meetings.
The Specialist Officer for post-16 then referred to paragraphs 4 of the report, and he stated that this section of his submission, provided the latest position on the main issues which had emerged during the consultation. The issue which had generated the most comment was that of travel and key information was presented in paragraph 4.1 in relation to this. He noted the link between this section of the report and the report on Learner Travel which Cabinet had deferred to its meeting in September.
He then went on to mention other wider areas of policy and strategy that were raised during the consultation and that could have a bearing on the future of post-16 provision. The most notable of these, were the new Local Development Plan that is being constructed to run from 2021 and the future balance of English and Welsh-medium provision.
Paragraph 4.6 the report provided some more specific detail on the options and outcomes, with indications on how these may or may not be taken forward.
The Specialist Officer for post-16 then referred to the meeting of the Subject Overview and Scrutiny Committees 1 and 2 held on 6 July 2020 and in paragraph 4.7, a summary was provided of the specific points that had been raised by elected members of this joint committee. It was felt by Officers that most of the points had been addressed within the Cabinet report or through the recommendations to Cabinet.
Cabinet members were then updated on the Equalities Impact Assessment and implications for the Well-being of Future Generations, as highlighted in the section of the report that referred to these.
The Specialist Officer for post-16, noted the financial position in paragraph 8 of the report and the slight improvement in the 2020-2021 post-16 grant from Welsh Government compared to the previous years where the budget had been declining.
Finally, arising out of the extensive range of responses received during the course of the public consultation, he referred to paragraph 9 of the report, which laid out a number of recommendations that were being made to Cabinet concerning the future of post-16 education provision across Bridgend County Borough.
The Cabinet Member – Education and Regeneration commended the report which was very detailed and comprehensive and supported the report’s recommendations also.
He appreciated the input from Scrutiny and the report reflected that the Authority had also listened to parents, governors, learners and teachers in the report’s proposals.
It was clear that these wanted 6th form provision to continue across the County Borough, with this being extended to allow more choice and with that increased opportunities.
RESOLVED: That Cabinet
· Noted the contents of the report on the public consultation set out in Appendix 1 of the report: The potential re-organisation of post-16 provision across Bridgend County Borough and the accompanying detailed extracts in Appendices 2 to 16.
· Took forward Option 3 as a solution for the foreseeable future to require schools to work together to deliver on a range of improvements to the current situation such as those listed in section 4.6.7.
· Instigated the development of a County strategy for blended learning drawing upon the recent experiences of the County’s schools under the Covid-19 lockdown and taking account of regional and national advice, experience and practice.
· Incorporated the results of decisions on School Transport, the Local Development Plan 2021+ and Welsh-medium education into a long term strategy for secondary school capacities and catchments, including sixth-form provision.
· Worked with partners to further develop the option of a sixth-form centre based at Bridgend College’s Pencoed campus in association with the new STEAM centre.
· Investigated the potential for expansion at Coleg Cymunedol y Dderwen within the context of the original planning application in order to provide capacity to meet the projected future demand for places and post-16 provision and collaboration in the northern part of the County Borough
· Agreed that should the current Heronsbridge Special School site become available, then consideration be given to utilising it as a future sixth-form centre of excellence.