The Corporate Director – Education and Family Support submitted a report, that provided Cabinet with a summary of the evaluations undertaken in respect of proposed School Modernisation Programme schemes for the Bridgend West area, including certain key recommendations in relation to this item.
He confirmed that Cabinet on 21 January 2020 gave approval for the Bridgend West schemes to be taken forward via the MIM funding arrangements. The preferred way forward for the Bridgend West scheme being:
• preferred education options of provision of a new-build, two-form entry English-medium school on 'a' site - suitable for Afon y Felin and Corneli Primary Schools combined) and;
• provision of a new-build, two-form entry Welsh-medium school on ‘a’ site - suitable for an enlarged Ysgol Y Ferch o’r ’Sgêr
The preferred sites for progression of feasibility for the new schools were determined by Cabinet as Valleys to Coast (V2C) owned Marlas Estate site and the existing Ysgol Y Ferch o’r Sg?r/Cornelly Integrated Children’s Centre/Corneli Primary School site.
School Modernisation Team officers have had a series of meetings with V2C and WG in order to progress the Bridgend West ‘Band B’ MIM scheme and to outline an appropriate programme (draft summary programme at Appendix 1 to the report referred).
He explained that one site for the proposed replacement schools in the West had been identified as land at Plas Morlais, owned by V2C. The land transaction was based upon a ‘swap’ deal with V2C, whereby BCBC swap the Afon-Y-Felin Primary School site for V2C’s Plas Morlais site. Land issues had been agreed by Cabinet and Council in December and built into the capital programme.
The Corporate Director – Education and Family Support confirmed that Heads of Terms in respect of the land swap required for the scheme had been agreed with V2C.
WG had confirmed that the Welsh Education Partnership Co. (WEPCo) was established in September 2020. Consequently, the Authority were now able to move forward with delivering individual projects through the New Project Request process, as set out in the Strategic Partnering Agreement.
He then explained, that in November 2020, WG approved BCBC’s Strategic Outline Case submission in respect of the Bridgend West proposal.
In order to progress the proposed Bridgend West Band B schemes to WG MIM stage 2 and business case approval stage, it was necessary to have first completed the necessary School Organisation Code statutory processes.
In order to bring about a change of the proposed nature, he pointed out that the Code requires that a consultation exercise with the school governing body, staff, parents, pupils and interested parties be undertaken.
The Corporate Director – Education and Family Support stated that a number of options were available under the Code, in terms of achieving the school organisation necessary for the Bridgend West ‘Band B’ schemes and these were detailed (for both welsh and English medium) in paragraph 4.12 of the report.
In respect of the Welsh-medium proposal there was no need to close any school (the existing Ysgol Y Ferch O’r Sgêr could simply be formally enlarged). In respect of English-medium, however, two schools (with two headteachers) would be replaced by a single school.
The Integrated Children’s Centre (ICC) building currently located on the Corneli site would remain in situ under the proposal ‘as is’ and consequently would be adjacent to one of the new school buildings upon completion. Both newly created school buildings would have integrated community facilities. It was therefore envisioned at this stage, that the existing Flying Start provision at Afon y Felin Primary School would transfer to the ICC building if the proposal was progressed.
There was an existing hard court pitch on the land at Plas Morlais (owned by V2C), which would be part of the site required to be developed for provision of the new school building. Community accessible outdoor sports provision would be included as part of the proposed new build schemes, which should negate any perceived detriment involved in developing the site, it was explained.
The Corporate Director – Education and Family Support concluded his report, by advising of its financial implications.
The Cabinet Member – Education and Regeneration advised that the report at this stage was just proposing to consult on the proposals contained therein and he hoped to that end, that everyone involved in the consultation would engage in this.
He added that if the proposals of the report were proceeded with, then this would bring 21st Century Modern Schools for North Cornelly for both English and Welsh medium, together with an increase in green spaces replacing a brownfield site and extra affordable housing.
The Leader stated that the report reflected the Council’s commitment to providing state of the art education provision in the area of Cornelly and he hoped that the consultation would have significant support from the likes of teachers, pupils, parents and the school governing bodies, in the support of the Authority’s aspirations to expand welsh medium school places in the western area of the County Borough.
RESOLVED: That Cabinet:
· Noted the evaluations that have been undertaken as expressed in the report;
· Noted the preferred means to achieve the necessary school organisation, ie
discontinue the two English-medium schools (Corneli Primary School and Afon y Felin Primary School) and establish a new two-form entry plus 60-place nursery English-medium school with 15-place Additional Learning Needs Resource Centre school on land at Plas Morlais (with effect from September 2023) – and to make a regulated alteration to the Welsh-medium school (Ysgol Y Ferch O’r Sgêr) in the form of an enlargement to two-form entry plus 60-place nursery Welsh-medium school on the existing Corneli Primary School/Ysgol Y Ferch O’r Sgêr site (with effect from September 2024) and;
· Gave approval to formally consult on the Bridgend West proposal.