The Chair of the Cabinet explained it was important to examine the proposal carefully, in particular the education case and the planning of school places case for the region, along with the objection report in order that an informed decision could be taken.
The Cabinet was informed that Welsh-medium secondary school provision is currently available across the South East Wales Consortium area at Ysgol Gyfun Gwynllyw in Torfaen and Ysgol Gyfun Cwm Rhymni in Caerphilly.
However pupil forecasts show that from September 2016 there will be insufficient places to accommodate Welsh-medium secondary learners across the region, with additional pressures emerging by September 2019.
The four authorities of Blaenau Gwent, Monmouthshire, Newport and Torfaen have all included a commitment within their 21st Century Schools Strategic Outline Programme (SOP) to work together to secure additional and sufficient Welsh-medium secondary provision within the region in the medium to longer term.
Newport City Council submitted a Strategic Outline Case, an Outline Business Case and a Full Business Case to develop a new Welsh-medium secondary school in Newport. Welsh Government has approved all levels of this business case process and the sum of £17m has been allocated for regional Welsh-medium secondary education funded by Newport City Council, Monmouthshire County Council and Welsh Government.
The next step was to secure the legal permission to establish the new school – this was taken through the full statutory consultation process as a school reorganisation proposal by the Cabinet Member for Education & Young People – first through Formal Consultation and then through the published Statutory Notice stage.
A summary of the findings at the formal consultation stage was available to all members. Cabinet Members were interested to note the comments by ESTYN at that stage which expressed the opinion that the proposal was likely to address the expected demand for secondary Welsh medium education and will improve the current educational provision in the area
In the case of a school reorganisation proposal not receiving any objections, the final determination can be taken by the Cabinet Member for Education & Young People. The outcome of this consultation was the receipt of two formal objections. Where objections against proposals are received a local determination panel must take the final decision. The basis for this was set out in the statutory school organisation code. In February 2014 the Council took the decision to delegate responsibility for the final decision of such school reorganisation proposals to full Cabinet.
The findings of the statutory consultation process were set out in detail in the report. It was explained that at the Statutory Notice stage of the consultation process, two formal objections were received. As formal objections had been received against the proposal to establish a Welsh-medium secondary school in Newport a final decision must be taken on this proposal by full Cabinet.
A summary of the statutory objections and the response to those objections has been developed into an “Objection Report” which was circulated as an appendix to the Report and was available on the Council’s ... view the full minutes text for item 3