Questions to CM Education and Skills

Member question: Councillor J Watkins, received 6 September 2017

Subject: Investment in 21st Century Schools

Please see further questions to Cllr Giles re: the above  

  1. What specifically are the planned improvements to Bassaleg and Caerleon comprehensive schools?  
  2. Will the planned improvements at the above schools as promised under Band B 21st Century Schools be in any way reduced as a result of monies allocated to the new Welsh school which was not in the initial plan?  
  3. A new school at Jubilee Park together with the plan to make Rogerstone Primary a three form entry will place significant pressures  with regards to accommodation and staffing structures at Bassaleg High School. Are there any plans to alter high school catchment areas to accommodate additional entry numbers at Bassaleg?
  4. Are the additional funds required to accommodate the growth of these schools part of the 21st Century initiative allocation  or will further monies have to be found?
  5. What statistics do you have for potential further growth for Newport?  
  6. Will the monies from this funding stream provide fully for the equipping of new schools at Glan Lyn and Llanwern?  
  7. Given the dire condition of buildings in some of Newport's schools and a need for urgent upgrade and refurbishment, was it a wise decision to undertake the delivery of a new school at this time, ie the new Welsh school? Surely repairs and refurbishment to existing educational buildings should have been the priority. I note it is acknowledged that whereas the teaching and learning is of primary importance, the quality of the learning environment very much adds to and supports pupils' aspiration and achievement

Response

  1. We are seeking to make improvements to the school premises and increase the capacity of both schools. The potential expansions would see Bassaleg increase to 2000 and Caerleon to 1800 pupils. The details of the plans will depend upon the finally agreed funding from Welsh Government. At present, we have submitted our Strategic Outline Plan, which is a proposal for a match-funded £70m programme and have indicated where our priorities for investment are within Band B. Band B covers the period April 2019 – 2024.   
  2. Funding to date for the Welsh medium secondary school was from the separate Band A of the 21C programme. The three schools are all part of the Band B proposal.  Decisions about specific developments at the schools will depend upon the finally agreed funding from Welsh Government. 
  3. See above. The plan is to increase the capacity of Bassaleg High School as part of our Band B proposal.  
  4. We have included within our bid realistic budget for these. Following the fit-out recently completed at Jubilee Park Primary we are confident that the budgets are sufficient for furniture and IT provision. 
  5. Our objectives for Band B are to ensure sufficiency of school places as well as make improvements to the learning environment.  Demand for Welsh medium education from parents has grown steadily in south east Wales and the decision to establish a Welsh medium secondary school was taken following considerable public consultation and was funded with contributions from Welsh Government, Newport and Monmouthshire.  Issued 25 September 2017

Member question: Councillor J Watkins, received 31 July 2017

Subject: Funding for 21st Century Schools

While we welcome investment in schools there are questions and concerns re: the current proposals as follows:  

Bassaleg and Caerleon Comprehensive schools are both in need of major investment in terms of the learning environment. School buildings are in very poor condition and should therefore be at the top of the list for investment.  

Why is it necessary to provide further investment for the new Welsh school? The initial investment should have been sufficient to support its delivery. Was the investment not adequate to support that?  

Relatively new schools in terms of age are included in the list ie Rogerstone and Maindee. What is the criteria for them now requiring further investment why are they being prioritised?  

Glanlyn and Llanwern Primaries together with the proposed school development at Whiteheads, why is there a requirement for private funding to deliver these? What is meant by private finance? Will this involve PFI (Private Finance Initiative) given that this has created massive debt issues for schools in the recent past?  Or is there to be a reliance on developers providing 106 monies? While helpful they can only provide for a small portion of funding required to deliver a new school. 

St Julian’s School, currently in special measures, is absent from the list.  Is there no benefit to this school by its inclusion? 

Response:

  1. Bassaleg and Caerleon Comprehensive schools are both in need of major investment in terms of the learning environment.  School buildings are in very poor condition and should therefore be at the top of the list for investment.  

The secondary school projects are the top priority within the proposed 21st Century Schools Band B Programme, with the highest level of funding allocated. The works planned will significantly improve the education facilities at Bassaleg School, Caerleon Comprehensive and Ysgol Gyfun Gwent Is Coed.

 2. Why is it necessary to provide further investment for the new  Welsh School?  The initial investment should have been sufficient  to support its delivery.  Was the investment not adequate to  support that?  

Initially, Duffryn High School, now known as The John Frost School, was the next proposed school to receive significant improvement and potential replacement following the Newport High School and Llanwern High School rebuilds.  

Following the building of two new teaching blocks that are due for completion in 2018, and the remodelling/improvement works to the existing two buildings occupied by The John Frost School, there remains the building which will be inherited by Ysgol Gyfun Gwent Is Coed.  

The Ysgol Gyfun Gwent Is Coed building, known as Block 1, while being available to use as an education facility requires further improvement in the form of significant remodelling or replacement. The funding required to develop Block 1, was not available within the 21st Century Schools Band A programme.

Significant investment has been made on The John Frost School and Ysgol Gyfun Gwent Is Coed sites but moving forward into the 21st Century Schools Band B timeframe it is essential that further investment is made. 

 3. Relatively new schools in terms of age are included in the list i.e.  Rogerstone and Maindee.  What are the criteria for them now  requiring further investment why are they being prioritised?  

Building sufficient capacity in the appropriate areas across Newport is a major factor within the Band B proposal. The council’s statutory duty must be met and both Rogerstone Primary and Maindee Primary have sites in the appropriate areas with grounds that are believed to be capable to accommodate further expansion. This will enable both schools to increase to 3 form entry. This option will significantly increase the number of school places available to pupils in areas where there are high levels of demand.   

 4. Re: Glan Llyn and Llanwern Primaries together with the  proposed school development at Whiteheads. Why is there a  requirement for private funding to deliver these?  What is meant by  private finance?  Will this involve PFI (Private Finance  Initiative) given that this has created massive debt issues for  schools in the recent past?  Or is there to be a reliance on  developers providing 106 monies?  

The proposed schools currently known as Glan Llyn Primary and Llanwern Primary schools will be built and provided through the Section 106 legal agreements as part of the development.  The main cost for building these schools will be met by the housing developer contributions.  However, neither school will receive furniture and equipment under the agreements so this has been included within the Band B submission due to the substantial costs.  

The Band B submission is based on capital funding through capital reserves, prudential borrowing and Section 106 contributions which will need to be received by the council prior to the projects being completed.  There will not be any private funding initiatives used to fund the programme.

 5. St Julian’s School currently in special measure is absent from  the list.  Is there no benefit to this school by its inclusion?  

The Band B submission took all schools within Newport into consideration.  Schools prioritised in the proposed programme were deemed to require funding to comply with the statutory obligations by provided access to schools and to improve facilities of the worst conditioned schools. The proposal has limitations due the level of funding, however the funding envelope is considered affordable. The programme will not address all existing issues but future capital maintenance programmes will continue to prioritise areas of most need.

Issued 14 August 2017


Member question: Councillor C Evans received 20 July 2017

Subject: 21st Century Schools

With reference to the welcomed decision to apply for '21st Century' school funding from the Labour run WG, and the approval by cabinet to seek said funding recently.  

Whilst I have concerns about the principal of the application/lottery style funding process applied by WG, my deeper concern is about applying for funding for selected schools in Newport and particularly Rogerstone and not others, 

It's welcomed to hear that Rogerstone Primary is to be put forward, the access/parking chaos around the school is of particular concern locally and is in serious need of improvement and I'm told this makes up part of the funding application, however some of my neighbours have asked why Highcross has been left out?  as you are probably aware the school is in dare need of being brought into the '21st Century' and currently suffers from a host of issues, including poor tiny 'early 20th century' classrooms with paint peeling off the walls, a tiny cloakroom and, very poor canteen facilities etc all this despite the wonderful PTA's efforts to upgrade facilities from their superb fundraising activities. 

One of the questions being asked is 'has this administration forgotten about Highcross Primary?

Response:

The 21st Century Schools Band B submission is an ambitious yet affordable programme which will be considered by Welsh Government.  The primary focus is the statutory duty in providing sufficient pupil places across the city.  Newport has a burgeoning population and every effort is being made to provide the right school in the right place.   

Work will continue with all Newport schools to address maintenance within the capital maintenance funding which is provided on an annual basis.  All projects are allocated funding on a priority basis and High Cross Primary School is included in this process.

Date issued: 31 July 2017