Meeting documents

Education, Youth, Culture and Leisure Overview and Scrutiny Panel
Monday, 23rd January, 2006





PRESENT: Chair 2005-6 - Councillor Andy Furse

Councillors: Dine Romero, Hilary Fraser, Shirley Steel, Sally Davis, Leila Wishart,

Also in attendance: Co-opted Members and teaching union observers : Colin Hitchin, Rob Henderson, Peter Jovcic-Sas, Paul Grant, Avril Connelly, Chris Batten (ATL)

Executive Member: Cllr. Jonathan Gay

Ward Councillors: Malcolm Hanney, Vic Pritchard, Adrian Inker, Charles Gerrish

Officers: Mike Young, Tony Parker, Alison Enever, Ann Swabey, Michael Owen

Apologies: Marian McNeir, Tess Daly, Mike Brownbill


The Chair of the Panel, Cllr Andrew Furse welcomed everyone to the meeting and explained the review process.


The Chair drew attention to the emergency evacuation procedure.


There were none


There was none


There were no written submissions. The Chair decided to take contributions from Ward councillors after the schools had made their submissions.


Broadlands School - Linda Ogden (Headteacher and Brian Davies, Chair of Governors.

The Headteacher gave a brief history and overview of the school. She informed the meeting that Broadlands had special Science and Engineering Status and had a unique partnership with Norton Radstock College which offered post-16 courses on site. The school had recently benefited from a £1m refurbishment of the science and engineering facilities. The next development in the pipeline was to achieve Extended School status

She asked the Panel to consider various issues which are currently affecting the school:

Intake - Currently, only 30% of the children at the school were from Keynsham, the rest were mainly from south Bristol. The numbers of out-of-area children were rising, so she felt that this factor should be a key part of the future assessment of the school, particularly in relation to the cost of effectively maintaining the school as a south Bristol comprehensive. The school has worked hard over the past 20 years to improve its reputation and is now very popular and oversubscribed.

Travel - 70% of the children currently travel to school in vehicles, mostly by bus, but increasingly by car, mainly from south Bristol. The school tries to encourage local children to walk to school.

Buildings - The school, like many others, has buildings of varying ages. Substantial sums are needed for maintenance, especially for re-roofing and re-wiring. The accommodation is not suited to 21st century learning. There is very limited canteen space which has to cater for 1050 teenagers during the lunch break. As a result, the Yrs 10 and 11 are allowed off-site at lunchtimes, but this causes other problems with policing their movements and behaviour.

Site - The playing fields are separated from the main site across the A4 over a footbridge. They flood in winter and are a long way from the school, so getting there takes time out of lessons. There is limited play space on the main site, with only small areas of hard surface.

Mrs Ogden suggested that the Panel might like to consider re-locating the school and instead providing a learning hub in the town centre which could cater for many different community needs, including, for instance, health facilities. This would tie in well with the proposed relocation of students from Bath Spa University to the town. Mr Davies agreed and said that this was an opportunity to look ahead objectively and view the provision of community and education facilities in Keynsham in a holistic way.

Panel Questions

Panel - If you could not replace the whole school, which part of it do you feel is in most need of improvement?

Mrs Ogden - The main building which dates from 1935 and the 1960s buildings. We need a new canteen so we can separate eating and teaching space, but there is no space on the site for more buildings.

Panel - what parental involvement is there in the school?

Mrs Ogden - the parents are very engaged with their children's academic progress, but there is minimal input on the fundraising side because 70% of the parents are from outside Keynsham. The PTA is just about to fold.

Panel - What percentage of Bristol students are in the post-16 phase?

Mrs Ogden - Most of our 6th formers are from Keynsham. The Bristol children tend to go to St Brendan's and other further education colleges.

Panel - Do you see your school serving the aspirations of certain sectors of Bristol parents? Is there competition for pupils between you and Wellsway School?

Mrs Ogden - We do not compete with Wellsway as we have a different catchment area. There is a good relationship between the two schools. The pleased to have achieved over the national average in the GCSE results.aspirational Bristol parents do expect good results from us and we are

Panel - Is your school available for community use?

Mrs Ogden - There is a long history of support from the local community and our buildings are available for community use. We are part of the pilot for Extended schools and would eventually like to see year-round operation.

Panel - Do you have a view on the whether or not Keynsham should be looking to increase the number of people living here?

Mrs Ogden - More local housing would help to support the school. Keynsham is well placed for easy access to public transport. If a large housing estate was built, a new Broadlands school could be part of the package.

Brian Davies - The proposals for more houses in Keynsham are a vital part of the equation when looking to future provision. However, just because there is still uncertainty about the housing plans, please do not let this stop the Panel from looking at the need to improve the provision now.

Chew Valley School - Mark Mallett (Headteacher) and Brian Sanders ( Chair of Governors)

Mr Mallett gave a brief history and overview of the school. He informed the meeting that, as far as could be predicted, the numbers of children expected from the feeder schools over the next 5 years was stable. Currently about 25% of the children come from the south Bristol area, particularly around Whitchurch. In order to maximise parental preference, the admission level had been raised to 196 this year.

The school had a mix of buildings of different ages and were still using some temporary wooden classrooms that were over 30 years old. However recently, 3 new science laboratories and a music centre had been opened. The governors and parents worked energetically to develop and improve facilities and have recently won a Sports England bid for a new gym, fitness suite and Astroturf pitch. The school gained Arts College status in 2003 and opened the Chew Valley music centre which also has a recording studio.

However, there was still frustration around the restrictions caused by the older accommodation, particularly the original 1950s kitchen and hall. The hall only holds 250 children and has to be multi-functional, being used for PE, assembly, exams and as a dining room. The school were hoping that the government's Schools for the Future programme would address some of these problems.

He asked the Panel to consider various issues which are currently affecting the school:

Curriculum - The school had seen a sustained improvement in GCSE and A level results, which were above the national average. The school has a strong ethos of inclusion and were proud of the fact that 99% of the year 11s had achieved 5 A-G grades at GCSE. The school also encouraged involvement many other activities such as drama, music and sport.

Vision for the next 10 years

The school would like buildings which were suitable for 21st century education. They were looking to improve vocational education and also accommodation for post-16 students, in particular the provision of proper study facilities.

The school is the focal point for the scattered communities of the Chew Valley and the development of the leisure centre has strengthened those ties with the community. During 2004, the school ran a very successful adult education project that they would like to repeat. Local primary schools also used the facilities. The school felt that there was considerable potential to further develop it as a true community facility.

Peter Sanders supported the Head's statement and re-iterated the problems caused by the small hall, kitchen and canteen. He also pointed out that the poor bus services within the valley caused extra problems for the school and its pupils.

Panel Questions

Panel - Are you looking to provide more Adult Education courses?

Mr Mallett - We are working to provide more in the New Year and would love to do even more in the future.

Panel - Do you feel your school is a rural school - how is it different from the other schools in this cluster?

Mr Mallett - It is definitely a rural school, although we are quite near the southern edge of Bristol. It does have different characteristics, for instance, a greater environmental awareness. The children recently designed a memorial garden for a teacher who died.

Panel - Are the numbers in the 6th form a true reflection of the overall numbers?

Mr Mallett - About 65% stay on in the 6th form. Those who do leave go to 6th form colleges or Further Education colleges which offer a different range of subjects. For some pupils, a change at the age of 16 is the right thing for them.

Panel - What brought about the improvement in the community sports use?

Mr Mallett - The main reason is the improved facilities that resulted from the successful lottery bid. Also, the company who originally managed it did not promote it effectively, but since the school have taken over management, it has been widely marketed with a resulting increase in community use.

Panel - With regard to the 14-19 curriculum, how would you address vocational issues in the future?

Mr Mallett - I feel there should be appropriate progression routes for students, both pre-vocational and vocational. We should also build links with other providers, who may have access to special equipment. At present, the school is running the BTEC Construction and also Health and Social Care courses, but we would like to offer more e.g. catering.

Panel - I understand that you have been having problems with the Chew Valley Explorer bus due to its timings not coinciding with the school day?

Mr Mallett - This has been drawn to our attention by pupils. We have lobbied the bus company and parents have also lobbied local councillors. We are anxious as there is talk that the service may be cut.

Panel - How many of your pupils are from south Bristol?

Mr Mallett - About 200. We also have pupils from those parts of North Somerset which fall within our Area of Prime Responsibility.

Panel - How are you linked with the local primary schools?

Mr Mallett - They use the drama and music facilities and take part in the dance festival. They have also participated in the mini-Olympics that we run. The school is also used as a meeting place for the primary heads.

Panel - How do you manage your travel plan?

Mr Mallett - The vast majority of children come by bus, some are brought in cars and a few come on their bikes. Most of the local children from Chew Magna and Chew Stoke walk to school. Post 16, transport is very difficult as parents have to pay for the bus and there is no guarantee of a place for all the children. Also there is no provision for collecting children following after-school activities.

Wellsway School - Mrs Andrea Arlidge (Head) and Mr Ashley Timmis (Vice-Chair of Govenors)

Mrs Arlidge gave a brief history and overview of the school. She informed the Panel that recent developments at the school included new arts and language blocks, extension to the technology accommodation and an artificial pitch. The school was currently working towards a bid for specialist school status as a Maths and Sports college. They had received planning permission for a new community sports centre.

The majority of the pupils live in Keynsham, with only 12% coming form outside the authority. It was a popular and oversubscribed school with high attainment at GCSE and A level. 60% of pupils stayed on into the 6th form.

The school has a supportive governing body and an active Friends of Wellsway association which organised many fundraising events. The school had a busy programme of extra-curricular activity including concerts, plays and an annual festival. They had been awarded a Sportsmark Gold Award and had active links with local community sports organisations. They also had a close partnership with their partner primary schools (Chandag Infants and Chandag Juniors) which shared the site.

Mrs Arlidge asked the Panel to consider various issues which are currently affecting the school:

Accommodation - The accommodation doesn't match the school's vision for the future. The general maintenance is poor and they lack special area for the performing arts. There are still temporary huts and terrapin buildings. There is no sports hall, ICT provision is inadequate and social space limited.

Vision - the school supports the vision as proposed by Broadlands school. Wellsway would also like to become an extended school. There are few out-of-school activities for teenagers in the area and they would like to work with the community to address this issue.

Mr Timmis supported the Head's statement and re-iterated the governors' oncern about the state of some of the buildings. Because the school was very successful despite the sub-standard buildings, the governors felt that there was an assumption that accommodation improvements were not a priority. He informed the Panel that community use of the school's facilities was expanding following the opening of the Astroturf pitch.

Panel Questions

Panel Why isn't the 6th form included on the School Council?

Mrs Arlidge - The 6th form has a separate council, but they do attend the main school council as well. We are looking at amalgamating the councils.

Panel - I understand that there are 20-30 students in your 6th form from other schools - which schools do they come from?

Mrs Arlidge - Many are from Oldfield Girls School in Bath, but there are also children from Bristol schools, including some independent schools.

Panel - Do you achieve good outcomes with pupils who have been excluded from other schools?

Mrs Arlidge - As I have not been at the school very long, I do not have that information, but I can find out for you.

Panel - We noticed that in some of the buildings, the heating was on full, but all the windows were open - is there a problem with the heating?

Mrs Arlidge - Yes we do have a problem with the heating.

This concluded the main contributor session. The Panel thanked all the schools for their warm welcome on the visits and for their contribution and co-operation with the review process. They also wished to compliment all the members of the school councils for their self-possession and enthusiasm.

The Chair then asked the ward councillors and other attendees if they wished to comment on the review:

Councillor Charles Gerrish ( Keynsham North)

Cllr. Gerrish informed the Panel that the vision for Keynsham was being explored by the Keynsham Development Advisory Group which reported to the Keynsham Development Board. The Group were currently awaiting the result of an inspector's planning review. The Regional Spatial Strategy which included a proposed expansion of Whitchurch could also affect the education planning process for the authority.

Cllr. Gerrish said that the Group were finalising their vision shortly (which did also contain education provision) and it would be appropriate if it could be taken into account by the Panel as part of their review.

ACTION - Panel Administrator to liase with Rachel Ward re timescales for presenting this to the Panel.

Cllr Malcolm Hanney (Chew Valley North)

The Chew Valley school is very important to the local community. Transport is a major issue for students, especially post 16. The bus service needs sorting out - there may be possibilities of tying the provision in with the Bristol Flyer service.

He informed the Panel that the proposed housing developments in Whitchurch would have an effect on Chew Valley School as well as Keynsham.

Cllr Vic Pritchard (Chew Valley South)

The complaints about the accommodation are common to many of our schools and this issue needs to be addressed in the future vision for the schools. This is particularly true when considered in the light of the 15,000 extra houses that the government has asked to be built within the authority in the next 20 years.

Cllr Jonathan Gay (Executive Member for Children)

With regard to the vision for Keynsham, we would hope to feed its findings into the EYCL review. - I see the work of the two groups as complementary. The Keynsham review is looking at the extra housing issue and, dependent on the outcome of that, would depend the recommendations of the EYCL Panel. We do have to look at the long term i.e. 20-40 years' time.

The Panel Chair thanked everyone for attending and for their contributions. He explained that the Panel, having gathered their evidence, would look at the issues and priorities arising from the review process and prepare their recommendations. These would be presented to the public at a meeting on Monday 5th December at 5.30pm in Keynsham Town Hall.

The meeting finished at 6.55pm

Chair ......................................................

Date confirmed and signed .....................................................