The Corporate Director Education and Family Support presented a report which:
The Corporate Director Education and Family Support provided background to the report and the Councils agreement to adopt the 5 revised principles as a framework for school organisation in Bridgend as indicated in section 3 of the report.
He explained that the report detailed the preferred way forward for the Bridgend West schemes and the preferred site location for the new schools. These were set out at section 3.3 and 3.4 of the report.
The Corporate Director Education and Family Support added that a consultation exercise was carried out between 25 January 2021 and 7 March 2021 in accordance with the statutory School Organisation Code. A copy of the consultation document was made available during this time on the Council’s website, this was hyperlinked at 3.7 of the report for information. The consultation document invited views and opinions to be submitted in respect of the proposal. A summary of these views and opinions were then published in the form of a Consultation Report. The outcome of the consultation was reported to Cabinet on 6 April 2021 and it gave approval to issue a public notice.
He stated that a number of objections were received regarding the proposals which prompted the need for a objections report which needed to be published summarising the objections and the authority’s response to the objections. Cabinet needed to consider the proposal in light of objections. Cabinet could then accept, reject or modify the proposal.
The Corporate Director Education and Family Support outlined the key issues raised from the objections which were summarised as the following:
Details of the above were listed in section 3 of Appendix A.
The Corporate Director Education and Family Support outlined the financial implications as set out in section 8 of the report. He explained that if approved, the budget requirements would need to be built into the MTFS as an annual charge over a 25-year period.
The Cabinet Member Education and Regeneration stated that this had been an ongoing issue and a number of meetings had been held regarding this. He explained that there had been assumptions and confusions which were understandable, but believed these had been dealt with thoroughly and meticulously in the report. He added that the schools had served their purpose and were no longer fit for that purpose. The children in Cornelly deserve better schools and this report proposed that. He added that the children would not need to move into the new school until everything was finalised giving time for getting used to the new surroundings.
The Deputy Leader agreed with the proposals and was pleased to see the small school ethos being continued as this was important for Cornelly schools. He added that the current school was not in a fit state to be used for much longer and believed that time was of the essence in securing a fit for purpose school.
The Leader asked what the extent of repairs was like at the current school sites. The Corporate Director Education and Family Support explained that the exterior of the afon y felin building there were numerous repairs relating to the windows and walls, and within the building the areas identified were flooring, heating and electrical. These were then prioritised in order of severity and necessity. The Leader asked what the condition of the other two schools, Ysgol Y Ferch o’r Sgêr and Corneli Primary School were.
The School Programme Manager explained that these schools were also in similar condition to Afon Y Felin and the backlog of repairs were also at a similar level. The Project Manager – School Modernisation outlined key details relating to the types of repairs.
The Cabinet Member Social Services and Early Help empathised with the concerns shared by the parents but added that the small school ethos can exist in a larger school, with the added benefits of what larger schools can provide in terms of more afterschool clubs, greater variety of teachers etc. She provided examples of her own children making a similar move and the positive effect it had on them.
The Cabinet Member Communities welcomed the report and echoed the comments by the other Cabinet members. He mentioned the ever-growing population and the requirement for school spaces and asked how the new school would facilitate that. The Corporate Director Education and Family Support stated that wherever possible the aim was to include surplus spaces within the classrooms to be able to facilitate the growth and provide some futureproofing.
The Leader asked what lessons had been learned from previous experiences in transitioning from an old site to a new site and what can be expected with this transition. The Corporate Director Education and Family Support explained that a similar transition occurred with schools in the Bettws area whereby meetings were set up with teachers and headteachers who had previously gone through that experience and discussed the issues relating to transitioning which proved to be beneficial going forward. He added that formal and informal arrangements will take place regarding the current proposals. The formal arrangements will be following the guidance and legislation changes from Welsh Government, the informal arrangements will be engagement with the current schools and governing bodies with the aim to maintaining the strengths and identities of the current schools going forward to the new school.
The School Programme Manager also outline some key areas of improvement going in to the new school which included soft play area and library facilities, potential drop off area for children, staff parking, the configuration of the school would suit the daily running of the school better than the old schools, the access into the school as well as the orientation of the school in terms of visible daylight.
RESOLVED: That Cabinet:
· Noted the statutory objections received as detailed in the attached draft objections report and appendices;
· Approved the draft objections report for publication; and