21ST CENTURY SCHOOLS BAND B FUNDING: STATEMENT FROM CABINET MEMBER FOR CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE
The Cabinet Member for Children and Young People read out a statement to provide an update on the progress on the delivery of Monmouthshire’s Sustainable Schools Programme to establish a 3-19 School on the King Henry VIII School site, Abergavenny with pupils from King Henry VIII School and Deri View Primary School. On completion, Deri View Primary School will be repurposed to facilitate the expansion of Ysgol Gymraeg Y Fenni.
This is an ambitious project to create a 3-19 all-through School to tackle significant challenges locally; the catchment area of Deri View Primary School is the most deprived in Monmouthshire.
Emerging evidence suggests that all -through schools have beneficial effects such as professional development of staff, the educational experience and outcomes of pupils.
The statutory consultation process commenced in June 2021, concluded in January 2022. Cabinet decided to close King Henry VIII School and Deri View Primary School and to open a new 3-19 School.
Cabinet agreed a temporary governing body will be established and the LA Governors have been appointed. Its tasks will be to appoint a new Headteacher from 1st January 2023. With the new Headteacher, the temporary governing body will develop the staffing structure, the vision and governance for the new school.
Business cases were submitted to Welsh Government to secure 65% funding; the remainder to be contributed by Monmouthshire County Council. The Minister approved the outline business case in December 2021 and the full business case will be submitted this week. A report will be brought to Council to seek approval for the 35% funding. In partnership with the Welsh Government, the business case specifies that the school should be built to zero carbon standard in recognition of the sustainability benefit and our commitment to the Climate Emergency.
As well as the 3-19 all through school, the site will include a centre for children with complex neurodevelopmental needs, a wellbeing centre, additional Flying Start provision and wrap around childcare enhancing support to the community and families.
To minimise disruption and reduce costs, during construction, King Henry VIII School pupils will remain in their existing buildings. Whilst avoiding the cost of temporary accommodation is beneficial to the budget and the stability of pupils’ learning experience, this will reduce the availability of land to build on.
The Cabinet Member updated Council on the risks to be addressed:
· Due to the change in scope of the project the floor area has increased and so building costs have increased;
· The impact of the pandemic and other inflationary cost drivers is not fully known both affecting project costs;
· Raw material costs are high and there are delays in supply chain, and labour availability;
· The Project team is continuously reviewing costs as the project progresses through works testing;
· An economic appraisal has been compiled with each option scored against investment objectives, critical success factors and benefit delivery. This has been repeated because of rising costs and an appropriate uplift has been applied to all options. The 3-19 school remains the preferred option despite the increased costs.
Aecom has been appointed as project manager and Morgan Sindall Construction has been been appointed to the end of Riba 4. Planning permission has been submitted for decision in June 2022. If granted, enabling works will commence through the summer holidays. Building is scheduled to commence in September 2022 to be ready to admit pupils in September 2024. In its first year the School will operate from two separate sites.
A question was asked about plans for the Leisure facilities.
County Councillor M. Groucutt, local member for both schools and member of the temporary governing body, welcomed the development and the acknowledgment of the social and economic difficulties in the area. He paid tribute to the retiring Headteacher, Elspeth Lewis, who has been tremendous asset to the school and has worked extremely hard to improve collaboration in the cluster.
The Leader of the Opposition welcomed the exciting plans and referred to the rising costs querying the response of Welsh Government around additional financial support. Disappointment was expressed that Chepstow School was not included in Band B.
The Cabinet Member for Children and Young People confirmed that there will be considerable upgrade to leisure facilities on the school site (e.g. 4G pitches, additional learning spaces, a Hockey MUGA) as part of the application. The leisure opportunities are separate to Abergavenny Leisure Centre.
It was confirmed that there has been, and will be, negotiations with Welsh Government on increased costs particularly in respect of zero carbon standards. It will be for the new Council to consider the 35% contribution.