Agenda item

21st Century Schools Band B Progress

To consider the report of the Corporate Director Education.


Consideration was given to the report of the Corporate Director of Education and Service Manager – Education Transformation and Business Change which was presented to provide Education and Learning Scrutiny Committee with an overview of the 21st Century Schools Programme, along with the opportunity to scrutinise progress in line with the delivery of the Band B Programme.


The Service Manager – Education Transformation and Business Change spoke to the report and highlighted the main points contained therein.


In relation to the development of the new 360 primary school to replace Glyncoed primary, a Member thanked all Departments on the creation of a pick-up and drop-off area off Allotment Road which would alleviate traffic congestion and improve access to the site.


A Member enquired regarding the car park extension at Six Bells school site. The Service Manager – Education Transformation and Business Change explained that a sustainable drainage application had been submitted retrospectively as legislation came into force after construction of the school had been initiated.  An Ecology Management Plan was required and they were working with the Ecology team towards construction on site in line with the extension in the summer period.


A Member commented that £10m for remodelling and improving secondary schools would not go far and enquired regarding the rationale for the timescales moving forward with this work.  The Service Manager explained they were looking at long term investment in secondary school remodelling, future bandings in the 21st century schools programme would look to incorporate remodelling.  It was a long term vision for the Local Authority who would look to allocate funds on the basis of the needs of each school.  The timeline had been constructed as some schools needed more in depth consideration of the options around remodelling projects.  An outline budget had been allocated to each secondary school on the basis of condition, suitability and need, they then work with the school to produce a project brief which feeds into the business case development and the associated timelines.


The Service Manager added that they take a holistic approach with regard to minor works maintenance and planned works programme and the Welsh Government capital maintenance funding which had been allocated to support schools.  They look to address the condition and suitability issues to the greatest degree possible by looking at some of the fundamental works associated with maintenance of school buildings which would then impact upon the transformational changes brought about by the 21st century schools programme.


The Member reiterated that £10m for remodelling secondary schools would not go far especially with the amount of work that was needed to improve schools built in the 1970’s.  Glanhowy school would be the oldest school in Blaenau Gwent after completion of the Band B programme and the Member enquired what Band Glanhowy would fall into.  The Service Manager stated that the banding for Glanhowy school was not yet known but she would look to bring this forward via the prioritisation programme that was being discussed for Band C going forward.


Councillor R. Summers left the meeting at this juncture.


A Member referred to Rhos-y-Fedwen primary school and enquired regarding work being undertaken aimed at foundation phase.  The Service Manager clarified the work was aligned to a larger scheme being undertaken to the external play area and was particularly relevant to foundation phase and had now been completed.  She confirmed this work did fall outside of the programme as the programmed works focused on internal remodelling to improve the suitability of the teaching and learning environment and condition of the school.


With regard to the new Welsh medium school, a Member raised concerns regarding pupil numbers for the school.  The Service Manager said that after a detailed consultation exercise had been undertaken and which was then followed by the Welsh Government school organisation code and associated statutory processes the school had been approved.   She advised that pupil numbers at Bro Helyg primary were increasing and over the next few years could exceed capacity.  There was a requirement upon the Local Authority to increase Welsh medium education provision with a commitment to achieving the vision of one million welsh speakers.  The school was being developed as a seedling growth model to allow a period of time for the school to grow and they would look at modelling the pupil population accordingly.  The impact upon schools had been captured throughout the consultation and post consultation period and was also covered within the Welsh in Education Strategic Plan.


Councillor M. Day left the meeting at this juncture.


The Committee AGREED to recommend that the report be accepted and endorse Option 1; namely that the report be accepted.

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