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Objection Report

Pupil Numbers

  • The Super School has space for over 750 pupils while only 430 spaces are currently needed. This is not just an extra allowance for population growth.  This is an allowance for at least one extra school, and it is disingenuous of you to say otherwise.
  • The numbers of pupils who would attend the new super school don't add up, the current pupil numbers are too low for the proposed 640 pupils, unless there is more being hidden by the council, and there are plans of closing other schools in the area.
  • NPT Councils pupil numbers for the proposed school also make no sense, there is no way that they will get close to that number of children by just closing the 3 schools, they must be planning to close more. Why is there so much secrecy?
  • The majority of the houses to be built have been built in this area. The (clever but evil) suggestion that because there is an increase in pre-school child care that there is going to be a boost in nursery kids is another blatant attempt to mislead. We all know that the Welsh Assembly have invested millions into pre-school child care. It is free for huge number of parents which has increased pre-school numbers all across Wales.

Officer Response

Comments relating to pupil numbers, how they have been calculated and on whether an additional school is to ‘secretly’ be included in the proposal has been fully covered in the Consultation report (pgs. 39-40)

To summarise it is proposed that the new school will be built to accommodate 630 full time and 140 part time pupils. These forecasted numbers determine the size of the building and the number of classrooms and additional rooms that will need to be included in the proposed new school. This information has been included in the Business Case submitted to Welsh Government to secure the funding to build the proposed new school and has been scrutinised and approved.

The figures in the five year forecast in the consultation document are derived from a combination of current numbers in the Foundation Phase of the three schools, and a 3 year average of early years pupils multiplied by the number of years to the school opening. It is not the combined total of the number of pupils who are in the 3 schools currently; many of these pupils will have left for secondary school by the time the proposed new school would open.

However while the method used to calculate this figure shows a decline, knowledge and experience of the pupil numbers in the area demonstrate that pupil numbers are actually increasing. Over the last 10 years the number of pupils in Swansea Valley schools has increased by over 160 extra pupils, and it is expected that these numbers will continue to rise as the population continues to grow. It is also the case that a significant number of new housing developments are planned for the area which could potentially increase numbers further. A number of these have not yet been built and it is not clear who will occupy them or whether additional pupils could be requiring a school place.

Officers are not suggesting that every child who is attending a school elsewhere will automatically return to claim a place in the proposed new school, neither is there a suggestion that every new build home will house primary aged children who will wish to attend the new school. However it is important to make sure that any new school is able to accommodate those children who live within the catchment area both at the time of opening and for the future as it is not acceptable or prudent to plan to open a new school which will not allow local pupils to access their education in their nearest suitable school. Combining all the above factors indicated that building a school to solely accommodate the numbers that are currently in the three named schools would not be sufficient. 

It should be repeated that there is no intention to include any other school in the proposed scheme, as stated in previous reports and again during the Cabinet meeting of June 2021. Despite these assurances, objections were received stating that other schools would be added at a later date. Any school reorganisation plan would be subject to exactly the same procedures as the current proposal. Current legislation does not permit the ad-hoc addition or removal of schools not already named in the consultation without commencing a new statutory process.

For clarity, information gathered from childcare organisations has been used to assess the number of preschool children in the area who may be transitioning into one of the schools in the area.  Information on the number of preschool children in a particular area is held by the health authority and is therefore not readily available to education officers. Knowing how many children are accessing child care in a particular area is an indicator of the number of children who will be requiring nursery places in the coming years and is therefore useful information to have when planning for pupil places. The additional childcare provision available in the area has no relevance to this proposal; it is actual children who have been counted not available childcare places. However it should be noted that there are likely to be a number of pre-school children who do not access any child care provision in the area and who are not therefore included in any calculations for future numbers, meaning that in fact the preschool numbers could be higher than anticipated.