Bath & North East Somerset Council

MEETING:

Cabinet

MEETING DATE:

14th May 2008

AGENDA
ITEM
NUMBER

11

TITLE:

A Review of Secondary Schools in Bath and North East Somerset

WARD:

All

AN OPEN PUBLIC ITEM

List of attachments to this report:

Appendix 1 - Part 1 - Part 2  - Investing in our Future: A Strategy for Secondary Education/Schools in Bath & North East Somerset - Two A3 documents circulated to all Councillors and available at the public inspection points including Bath Central, Keynsham and Midsomer Norton libraries, in political group rooms and on the Council`s website

Appendix 2 - Maps and charts showing geographical distribution of Year 7 pupils in Bath and North East Somerset secondary schools as at September 2007 essential for future planning of secondary schools

Cabinet is asked to:

2.3.1 Bath

(i) Culverhay School

Consult upon the closure of the present boy's school and re-opening as a new 11-18 co-educational community school or Academy on the current site with a planned admission number (PAN) of 160. The new school to be determined by means of a competition to secure the most effective sponsor partner should the new school be an academy.

(ii) St Mark's Church of England School/Oldfield School

Consult upon the closure of both schools and the opening of a new 11-18 co-educational Church of England school in the north of the city with a PAN of 160. The new school to build on the strengths of St Mark's and Oldfield and ensure that staffs of both schools have equal access to posts in the new school and all pupils at the two schools can attend the new school. The consultation to determine the site.

(iii) Hayesfield School for Girls/Beechen Cliff School for Boys

Retention of both schools as the single sex options for children within the city of Bath with PANs of 160.

(iv) Ralph Allen School

Retention of Ralph Allen school as a 11-18 co-educational school with a PAN of 175.

(v) St Gregory's Catholic College

Retention of St Gregory's Catholic College as an 11-16 Catholic school with a PAN of 160.

(vi) Admission System

Consult on a process to achieve a fair and equitable admission system for all children across the city of Bath.

2.3.2 Keynsham and Chew Valley

(a) Keynsham

(i) Consult on the closure of Broadlands Community School and the expansion of Wellsway Community School to create a single secondary school with a planned admission number of 260 places each year, the single school to be re-built under the BSF programme.

(ii) Support the governing bodies of the two schools to Federate so that:

- by September 2010 or 2011 an intake of 260 pupils can be achieved ready for the opening of new buildings in future years.

- a planned process of staffing changes is in place as pupils numbers reduce towards the Planned Admission Number of 260.

(b) Chew Valley

(i) Subject to the outcome of (a)( i) above, consult on the expansion of the PAN of Chew Valley school to 216 and to re-designate Whitchurch Village into the Chew Valley school catchment area/area of prime responsibility.

2.3.3 Norton Radstock

No change to the current pattern of provision. However as part of the Building Schools for the Future Programme, Writhlington school is being rebuilt and the remodelling of Norton Hill and Somervale is planned in the later phases of the Programme.

3 FINANCIAL IMPLICATIONS

3.1 Overall Position

There is no capacity within the Children's Services Revenue Budget to fund any additional revenue costs, whether arising directly from the proposals or as the revenue costs of the capital implications. It is planned that the capital funding will be sought from the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) as part of the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme and from capital receipts arising from rationalisation of sites, with any residual capital implications being met either from schools own capital resources or from borrowing funded from the Direct Schools Grant (DSG). This approach will need to be agreed with the Schools Forum.

In April 2008 the DCSF launched a consultation on the allocation of funding for waves 7 to 15 of the BSF programme, with a closing date of 4th July 2008. Until this consultation is complete it is difficult to predict the phasing of funding. However this consultation makes it more likely that Bath and North East Somerset will be able to access early BSF funding for the proposals set out above i.e. establishing a new school in North Bath; rebuilding Culverhay and establishing a new single school for Keynsham.

3.2.1 Major capital investment for complete re-builds or substantial re-modelling of schools must await BSF resources. Our ability to provide a clear strategic direction as to how we could provide secondary schools in the future may trigger an early release of funding as referred to above. Funding levels for BSF are based upon a DCSF formula with limited scope to recognise specific local issues or pressures. This may leave the Authority with a funding gap, therefore it is essential that the future pattern of provision reflects parental demand within the Authority and seeks to ensure provision for local children and young people over the next 15-20 years. BSF funding will only be sufficient to rebuild schools to provide places for Bath and North East Somerset pupils. The Council will have to utilise all resources (i.e. land, buildings, staff and funding) efficiently and effectively to deliver these proposals and therefore meet national BSF requirements. Such investment in rebuilding and remodelling will significantly reduce the planned maintenance backlog and future maintenance costs in schools.

3.2.2 In the shorter term essential capital investment will be met from within existing funding available to the Children's Service from the Council and DCSF. This investment will be focused upon:

All investment will be consistent with the strategic approach outlined in the review.

3.2.3 Proposal 2.3.1(i) to establish a co-educational school to replace Culverhay school has been subjected to a feasibility study the findings of which have been shared with the Governing Body of that school. The cost of these works is estimated at £105,000 to provide appropriate toilet and changing facilities. The Governing Body have confirmed a willingness to move to co-educational status on the basis of this work subject to further investment from the eventual BSF programme. These costs can be met from within existing funds. The cost of complete rebuild of a 160 place co-educational secondary school are approximately £25 million and this is the level of funding needed from BSF.

3.2.4 Proposal 2.3.1(ii) to close Oldfield and St Mark's Church of England school and establish one school will require a decision on which of the two existing sites to use. Given that St Mark's Church of England school is already co-educational a feasibility study was commissioned for Oldfield school to determine the costs of a move to co-educational status. As with Culverhay school the findings of this study were shared with the Governing Body of Oldfield school. The cost of these works is estimated at £931,000 (this includes an artificial turf pitch). When asked by the Authority in January 2008 the Governing Body of Oldfield school declined to move to co-educational status on the basis of this work. At the Council meeting of 27th March the Chair of Governors of Oldfield School stated that with appropriate improvements to the accommodation Oldfield School would be happy to become co-educational over time. The costs of a single 160 place secondary school are approximately £25 million and this is the level of funding needed from BSF.

3.3.1 The proposals outlined in 2.3 would result in fewer pupils attending Bath and North East Somerset schools. This has implications for school budgets as a whole and for the Children's Service budget. .

3.3.2 Individual schools will be affected in different ways. Schools that are reducing in number would observe a reduction in resources through the LMS formula of the authority, whereas schools increasing in pupils would observe an increase in resources. The expected outcome of the proposals would be a general increase in size of schools which would result in greater viability.

3.3.3 The reduction in resources within the Direct Schools Grant (DSG) will depend on the reduction in numbers of pupils not attending our schools as a result of the reorganisation. The proposals in 2.3 would result in a gradual reduction in pupils attending our schools over a period of time.

3.3.4 The proposed reorganisation of St Mark's/Oldfield and Broadlands/Wellsway could result in up to 1900 fewer pupils in our schools. It is estimated that for each pupil the reduction in DSG would be approximately £500 i.e. a long term reduction of up to £950,000 per annum in the DSG. Reductions in pupil numbers from cross border pupils (South Gloucester and Bristol) could be partly offset by growth in pupils from within Bath and North East Somerset.

3.3.5 The pupil numbers in our school also affects the formula spending share we receive for children's service responsibilities. Approximately £130 per pupil is allocated to the authority for this responsibility i.e. a long term reduction of up to £247,000 per annum in the Children's Service budget. As with the DSG the impact of this on the council will depend on the numbers of pupils attending our schools. Any impact of reduced numbers would be spaced over several years.

Provision of co-educational places at Culverhay and Oldfield will have little or no impact on the Home to School Transport budget since the majority of students live within three miles of their nearest school and do not qualify for free transport. However, there may be an overall reduction in travel to school by car due to more students being able to access their local school. It will be important that any consultation considers how the most efficient home to school transport arrangements can be achieved.

5 CORPORATE IMPROVEMENT PRIORITIES

6 CPA KEY LINES OF ENQUIRY

7 THE REPORT

7.1 The Panel undertook a review of secondary education across the whole of Bath and North East Somerset which was completed in November 2006. Their comprehensive report is an appendix to this report.

7.2 The purpose of the review was `to ensure that the current high standards in our secondary schools are maintained and improved; that all our resources are used effectively; that wherever possible, good facilities are available to all users of school buildings; that the natural choice of parents and pupils will be their local school; that travel to schools by private car should be reduced where possible'.

7.3 Following the findings of the Panel, options have been further developed and analysis undertaken. In addition there has been consultation with secondary school Headteachers, Diocesan Boards and the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) culminating in a conference in July 2007 on the future shape of secondary education in the area.

7.4 The issues were debated at full Council on 27th March 2008 and it was the Council resolved to:

7.5 Thank the Children and Young People Overview and Scrutiny Panel for the three area based secondary reviews which have contributed to the strategy presented today.

7.6 Ask the Cabinet when it meets to discuss the strategy, to consider that work together with the views expressed at this meeting in order to decide whether to take formal specific proposals for consultation.

7.7 This report provides an overview of the key issues facing secondary schools in the short and longer term in the context of local and national priorities and draws together the Panel's findings, the results of consultation and makes recommendations for the future of secondary education in the Authority. It is supported by information on pupil numbers, parental surveys and demographic trends set out in the appendices which were provided to all Members for the full Council meeting on 27th March.

7.8 It is not intended in this report to cover all of the issues both local and national which will affect the way education is provided in the future as these are extensively covered in the Panel's report

http://www.bathnes.gov.uk/committee_papers/OandSEYCL/EYCL070108/07aReportLinks.htm. However it is important to provide a summary of the national and local drivers for change which informed the Panel's findings and legislative changes which may impact on any reorganisation proposals.

7.9 National Context

7.9.1 The Children Act provides the national context for services relating to children and their families. The Change for Children programme (Every Child Matters - Change for Children, 2004) identifies five outcomes for children and young people, these are:

The five outcomes are interdependent and Government has recognised that in order to achieve them, radical reform is required to the way that children's services are currently delivered, this includes the provision of extended services to children and their families on each school site or across a cluster of local schools and providers.

7.9.2 In addition to the changing roles of schools in their communities, the Government plans a radical change to the qualification routes available to students aged 14-19. It aims to increase the numbers of pupils staying on in education after the age of 16, through extending the range of opportunities available to them and particularly the number of vocational courses available. There will be 14 specialised Diplomas developed in partnership with employers alongside the existing curriculum and these will be introduced over the three year period 2008-2010. There will be an entitlement for every 14-19 learner to study in any of these areas from 2013.The DCSF states that `The nature of the 14-19 entitlement makes it evident that no school acting alone will be able to meet the needs of all young people on its roll'. There is also a requirement in the Education Bill that the area must make available a suitable learning offer to every post 16 student in the expectation that all young people will be engaged in an education or training programme to the age of 18. Consultation has shown that there is no support for a 6th Form Centre which means that collaboration between schools and colleges is essential to ensure that the full entitlement is available to all students across the authority and that the future structure of secondary education in Bath and North East Somerset will need to include a strategy for this provision. This will require further decisions by Cabinet in future given the small size of some school sixth forms.

7.9.3 There have also been legislative changes and with effect from 2007 a new statutory framework applies to establishing of any new maintained school - whether they are to be brand new schools (e.g. to meet population growth) or to replace existing schools (e.g. flowing from a reorganisation). Should a new school be proposed by the Authority as part of organisational changes to secondary schools in Bath and North East Somerset then this would be open to competition unless the Secretary of State grants an exemption applied for by the Authority. The purpose of competition is to increase diversity and maximise parental choice by allowing other interested parties to express an interest in promoting the school. The provisions will not apply to proposals to re-build a school on its existing site or to transfer it to a new site.

7.9.4 The Government's belief is that all schools should have the opportunity to become self-governing and the Education and Inspections Act 2006 enables Community, Voluntary Aided (church) and Voluntary Controlled schools to become Foundation schools. Foundation schools own their own assets, employ their own staff and are their own admissions authority. In addition existing Foundation schools can become Trust schools. These are foundation schools supported by a charitable trust. This has had an impact locally with two Community secondary schools and one Community special school with secondary age pupils recently opting to become Foundation schools and a number of Foundation schools exploring the possibility of a establishing a Trust.

7.9.5 Supporting the required transformation in the way Children's Services are delivered is the BSF programme which is aimed at renewing or refurbishing every secondary school in England over a fifteen year period. The DCSF is clear that BSF is not simply intended to replace existing schools with more of the same `BSF is not about rebuilding existing schools - it gives local authorities the chance to completely rethink and redesign their entire secondary school provision for the better.'

7.9.6 Priority for BSF has been given to Authorities with high deprivation and low educational standards and so Bath and North East Somerset is not due to receive funding until the final waves of the programme i.e. 2014. However recent developments indicate that the DCSF wish to accelerate the programme and may be inviting Councils in the later waves to submit bids demonstrating their readiness to proceed. This will include evidence of a clear strategic vision for the future of secondary provision and the capital investment required to achieve this. A successful bid may secure much earlier access to BSF funding. It is essential therefore, that the Authority takes the time now to understand what its requirements for secondary education will be in the future and puts in place a strategy for achieving this.

7.10 Local Context

7.10.1 Bath and North East Somerset is an authority with very good educational standards and the Authority's secondary schools are some of the highest performing nationally. Despite this, we know we can do even better. It is key therefore that any changes to secondary schools which may be proposed maintains and builds on this success. The Panel however identified a number of issues which any review of secondary schools would need to address.

7.10.2 Regional Spatial Strategy - In line with the national picture significant additional housing is planned for Bath and North East Somerset in future years. The Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS) suggests that 18,800 dwellings should be built in Bath and NE Somerset between 2006 and 2026, distributed as follows:

· 6,000 within Bath

· 1,500 in an urban extension to the south/south west of Bath (within an identified area of search)

· 6,000 in an urban extension to south-east Bristol (within an identified area of search broadly between Whitchurch and Hicks Gate)

· 3,000 in an urban extension to Keynsham

· 2,300 in the rest of Bath and North East Somerset

Any consideration of changes to existing education provision should as far as is possible take account of the type and number of planned developments in the area or adjoining areas.

7.10.3 Out of Area Pupils - The Panel noted that the Council is a net importer of pupils from other authorities with two schools particularly (Broadlands and Oldfield) having very high levels of pupils who are from Bristol and South Gloucestershire respectively. Whilst some of these pupils may be within the `catchment' for the school the vast majority are not. This high number of imported pupils distorts the real level of need. The future structure of secondary provision in Bath and North East Somerset needs to reflect the numbers of children from within the Authority and therefore any reorganisation may impact on those surrounding Authorities. Similarly any changes to schools within those local authority areas such as the impact of the new schools currently being built in Bristol, may impact on the number of pupils coming into Bath and North East Somerset.

7.10.4 Co-educational and Single Sex Provision - Within the Greater Bath Consortium of seven schools, four are single sex (two boys and two girls). The other maintained schools within Bath and North East Somerset are all co-educational. In terms of the number of single-sex schools nationally, Bath has a disproportionate number of these. There are approximately 400 single sex schools in England representing around 11 percent of all secondary schools. In this Authority almost 31 percent of our schools are single sex and in the city of Bath 57 percent are single-sex. This has the effect of reducing the choice for those parents who would prefer a co-educational school for their children.

Two surveys of parents and carers of children within the Greater Bath Consortium undertaken in 1999 and in 2004 showed that approximately 60% of parents would prefer co-educational schooling for their children. Currently, only 40 percent of pupils (aged 11-15) in the Consortium attend co-educational schools. The Panel concluded that the future shape of provision needs to address this demand.

7.10.5 Denominational Places - The Authority's School Organisation Plan states that there is an expectation that the broad balance of denominational and non - denominational places is maintained. The Panel recognised that in order to provide as much choice as possible to parents, the Authority should ensure that it meets the level of demand for places in VA Church schools in Bath. However currently parental demand is low and St Mark's has 234 surplus places.

7.10.6 Surplus Places -Despite the numbers of pupils attending Bath and North East Somerset schools from other authorities the Panel noted that there is clearly an over provision of school places, particularly in the city of Bath. This surplus is not evenly distributed across all schools, with some being oversubscribed and others having a high number of unfilled places. The Authority is required by Government to reduce high levels of surplus places which are wasteful of resources. In addition funding under Building Schools for the Future will not be sufficient to rebuild all our schools, given the funding formula, if a high level of surplus places are maintained.

7.10.7 National Diplomas and Specialist Schools - In order to meet the demands of 21st Century secondary educational provision it is important for schools to both develop their own specialist provision and to be part of a network of schools co-operating together. It is therefore important that each secondary school forms the heart of a learning centre for its local community. A strategic approach is being undertaken to each school's specialisms and a 14-19 strategic board has been established consisting of representatives from the schools, colleges, employers, the Learning and Skills Council and other providers to oversee the introduction of the new 14-19 Diploma (see 7.9.2).

7.11.1 The next section of the report gives a brief overview of current provision in each of the main geographical areas i.e. Chew Valley, Keynsham, Midsomer Norton, Radstock and Greater Bath; provides analysis of pupil numbers and future projections and sets out proposals for future provision in each of the areas both in the short and longer term.

- Retain Beechen Cliff as a boys 11-18 school with co-educational post 16 provision and with a PAN of 160.

- Retain Hayesfield as a girls 11-18 school with co-educational post 16 provision and with a PAN of 160.

- Retain St Gregory's Catholic College as an 11-16 co-educational Catholic Secondary School with a PAN of 160.

- Retain Ralph Allen as a co-educational 11-18 school with a PAN of 175.

- The closure of Culverhay boys school and re-opening as a new 11-18 co-educational community school or academy with a planned admission number (PAN) of 160 on the current site.

- The closure of both St Mark's Church of England and Oldfield schools and in order to maintain the broad balance of denominational and non denominational places, the opening of a new 11-18 co-educational Church of England school with a PAN of 160 in the north of the city. The consultation to determine the site. It is recognised that both Oldfield and St Mark's have strengths and the new school should build on these strengths particularly the high 11-16 standards at Oldfield and the innovative approach to the curriculum which has led to significantly improved results at St Mark's.

In addition to considering these changes, in order to ensure standards are maintained in all schools both now and in the future, careful consideration should be given to the admission process in Bath to ensure that all parents are given full access to all schools. St Gregory's Catholic College serves a wide area well beyond the City of Bath. For the remaining secondary schools a small, well defined area close to each school should be identified so that parents within that area have the opportunity to send their children to their local school if they wish.

However, beyond these areas, parents should have equal access to the schools within the city, particularly if proposals to have one single sex boys and one single sex girls' school are consulted on and put in place. Therefore a separate report on a fair and equitable admission system should be presented by officers to Cabinet.

7.11.3 Keynsham and Chew Valley

(a) Keynsham

Support be given to the governing bodies of the two schools to Federate so that:

- by September 2010 or 2011 an intake of 260 pupils can be achieved ready for the opening of new buildings in future years.

- a planned process of staffing changes is in place as pupils numbers reduce towards the Planned Admission Number of 260.

This consultation should proceed on the basis of retaining the high quality staff and building on the successes of both schools.

(b) Chew Valley

7.11.4 Norton Radstock

(a) Midsomer Norton

(b) Radstock

The RSS indicates that 2,300 dwellings will be built by 2026 in Bath and North East Somerset outside of Bath and Keynsham, which may generate 350 pupils aged 11 to 16. While a significant number of these may be located in Midsomer Norton and Radstock, the three schools have sufficient capacity to cater for the extra pupils generated.

7.12 Summary

This report sets out options for the future of secondary education in Bath and North East Somerset within the context of a national agenda which proposes radical changes to the qualification routes for 14-19 year olds and requires schools to play a key role in the provision of extended services to children and their families. Supporting this transformational agenda is BSF which will enable the rebuilding or refurbishment of all secondary schools within an organisational pattern that meets parental demand. Locally the key challenges are a failing building stock, a significant number of surplus places at some schools in Bath whilst at the same time there is a shortage of co-educational places for the city. In addition the high number of pupils from other Authorities chiefly Bristol and South Gloucestershire, distorts real level of need. The proposals in this report for the future structure of secondary provision in Bath and North East Somerset reflect the numbers of children from within the Authority, including projections for the impact of the significant housing provision planned for the area within the RSS.

8 RISK MANAGEMENT

8.1 A risk assessment related to the issue and recommendations has been undertaken, in compliance with the Council's decision making risk management guidance.

8.2 Organisational changes which result in fewer pupils attending Bath and North East Somerset schools could have an impact on schools' budgets as a whole and the Children's Service budget. The funding methodology of the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) would mean that any reduction of pupils attending Bath and North East Somerset schools would result in a reduction in resources available for services managed by the LA for schools. Any reduction in revenue funding would impact gradually since no proposals will be put forward to prevent pupils already attending Bath and North East Somerset schools from continuing to do so until they leave at the end of Year 11 or 13. Therefore the impact would be spread over five years and would be managed. The negative impact on revenue funding of reduced pupil numbers attending Bath and North East Somerset schools would need to be considered in relation to a much more efficient pattern of school places and reduced capital expenditure.

8.3 Failure to provide a structure of secondary school provision which reflects parental demand and removes surplus places may lead to a substantial shortfall in capital funding under BSF.

8.4 Should consultation proceed for Culverhay school but not for Oldfield school to become co-educational there is a risk that equal opportunities legislation would prevent implementation of a decision whereby the city of Bath had more single sex girls places available than single sex boy's places. Guidance from the DCSF states that in deciding to change the status of schools: The Secretary of State wishes to encourage LAs to organise provision in order to ensure that places are located where parents want them. The Guidance goes on to say: The Decision Maker,(in this case Bath and North East Somerset), should consider whether there are any sex, race or disability discrimination issues that arise from the changes being proposed, for example that there is equal access to single sex provision for the other sex to meet parental demand. Any changes to meet the demand for additional co-educational places in Bath will need to ensure that the demand for single sex places from Bath and North East Somerset parents can also be met.

9 RATIONALE

9.1 The recommendations referred to in this report reflect the findings of the Overview & Scrutiny Panel and result from extensive consultation with schools and other stakeholders.

10 OTHER OPTIONS CONSIDERED

10.1 The Overview & Scrutiny Panel considered a range of options for the future organisation of secondary schools which are set out in their report (see link in Paragraph 7.8).

11 CONSULTATION

11.1 Ward Councillors; Executive Councillor; Overview & Scrutiny Panel; Staff; Other B&NES Services; Service Users; Stakeholders/Partners; Section 151 Finance Officer; Chief Executive; Monitoring Officer. In 1999 and 2004 surveys of parental preference for secondary school places in Bath were undertaken.

11.2 The Panel requested information from both council officers and schools themselves. It visited each school, met pupils and teachers and talked to the school councils. In each area a public meeting was held to which the Headteachers and Chair of Governors from the schools were invited to give their views on how they saw their school developing into the future. Pupils, their parents/carers and any other interested parties were also invited to give the Panel their comments and views throughout the process. At the end of each phase an interim report was produced documenting the Panel's findings and these together with the final report were presented at public meetings.

11.3 Following the Panel's report there has been consultation with secondary school Headteachers, Diocesan Boards and the LSC culminating in a conference in July 2007 on the future shape of secondary education in the area.

12 ISSUES TO CONSIDER IN REACHING THE DECISION

12.1 Social Inclusion; Customer Focus; Sustainability; Human Resources; Property; Young People; Equality (age, race, disability, religion/belief, gender, sexual orientation); Human Rights; Corporate; Health & Safety; Impact on Staff; Other Legal Considerations.

13 ADVICE SOUGHT

The Council's Monitoring Officer (Council Solicitor) and Section 151 Officer (Strategic Director - Support Services) have had the opportunity to input to this report and have cleared it for publication.

Contact person

Chris Kavanagh Tel: 01225 395149

Background papers

Children and Young People Overview and Scrutiny Report 8th January 2007 - Review of Secondary Education Provision in Bath and North East Somerset

Report to Council 27th March 2008 Review of Secondary Education Provision in Bath and North East Somerset

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