Update on School Modernisation
- Meeting of Lifelong Learning OSC - Expired 07/05/15, Thursday, 25th September, 2014 2.00 pm (Item 19.)
- View the declarations of interest for item 19.
- View the background to item 19.
That the report be noted.
The Chief Officer (Education and Youth) introduced a report on the progress made with School Modernisation.
The Chief Officer referred to the anticipated reduction in funding from the Welsh Government for 2015/16, and possible additional reductions to specific grants “in year” and between years and reported that all services were committed to finding new ways of working to sustain local public services as far as able.
The Chief Officer commented on the aim to protect the learner’s experiences in the classroom. He advised that overall the outcomes being achieved by Flintshire learners compared positively with other Authorities in Wales and continued to improve. He referred to the examples of modernising education in Flintshire in recent years which had proven to deliver improved opportunities and outcomes for children and young people and the further major capital investments in education planned for the future.
The Chief Officer referred to the key considerations in the report and advised that the Council was committed to ensuring that school buildings would meet twenty-first century expectations, were fit for purpose and were a community resource. He introduced Mr. Damian Hughes, School Modernisation Manager, and advised that ‘Band A’ schemes of the 21st Century Schools Programme were progressing according to schedule. The Authority now needed to complete its annual commissioning plan for post 16 education and begin considering potential strategic ‘Band B’ schemes for submission to WG for funding through the next tranche of 21 Century Schools. The Chief Officer reported that there was also a need to commission further review work in relation to schools as some had high percentages of surplus places and some had significant backlogs of repairs and maintenance works.
Mr. David Hytch commented on the current backlog of repairs and maintenance for school buildings and acknowledged that school organisational change would continue to address the issue in part but expressed concern around the significant backlog of work which remained. Councillor Carolyn Thomas expressed concerns on the condition of the school toilets in some schools and asked when the backlog of work to upgrade the toilets in schools would be addressed. In his response the Chief Officer confirmed that the condition of school toilets remained a high priority and referred to the positive progress which had been noted by the Welsh Audit Office concerning the repair and maintenance of school buildings in Flintshire. He also reiterated his comments regarding the pressures on the Authority as a result of reduced funding from the WG and the impact on services and advised that organisational change remained the key tool to addressing such deficits.
During discussion the Chairman reminded Members that an item on school repair and maintenance backlog had been scheduled for consideration at the meeting of the Committee to be held on 4 December 2014
Councillors Nancy Matthews and Nigel Steele-Mortimer commented on the valuable role that schools held within their local communities and the need to retain rural provision where possible.
Mr. David Hytch requested that the Committee be consulted on all
proposals prior to their adjudication by Cabinet.
In response to the questions and concerns raised by Councillor Dave Mackie around the future provision of sports facilities at John Summer’s High School and surrounding areas, the Chief Officer advised that pupils could use the sports facilities at Deeside Leisure Centre. He also advised that the Chief Officer (Organisational Change) would present plans for the development of leisure facilities across Flintshire at future meetings of the Committee.
That the report be noted.