Education review selection process clarified.
Argyll and Bute Council’s spokesperson for education, Councillor Ellen Morton has clarified the criteria she considered when developing the proposals which would be considered for pre consultation.
Councillor Ellen Morton confirmed at the council meeting on 3 March that in conducting her review of the school estate proposal she had adopted a wider, more holistic approach than was considered previously. Councillor Morton’s review is enhanced by a broader range of information than was previously considered and is based firmly on the principle of positive educational benefit.
Councillor Morton said:
“The purpose of the review is to deliver a more efficient and sustainable operation of the school estate. This means we have to maximise the proportion of resources that are available for the direct delivery of education services and minimise the risk of adverse impacts on education outcomes
“Deciding which schools could potentially be considered for pre consultation is not as simple as applying a set of standard criteria to each school and then performing a calculation to churn out a list of which schools we should consider and which we shouldn’t. Each school must be considered individually. Some criteria will have a much greater impact on some schools than others. That’s why I’ve visited around three quarters of our primary schools and why I want to carry out the pre-consultation – so we can learn more about the individual characteristics of each school and the educational impact it has before we produce further proposals.”
Councillor Morton considered measures previously presented to council, based on criteria set out in CIPFA Guide to Asset Management and Capital Planning in Local Authorities. These included occupancy levels, cost per pupil, sufficiency of provision, building condition and energy use per pupil.
Councillor Morton visited 66 of the council’s 80 primary schools before selecting schools for pre consultation and held discussions with parents, parent councils and teachers. The review was also informed by the very significant level of responses sent by stakeholders since the initial set of draft proposals were considered by the council in November.
The review also took account of feasibility considerations such as the financial impact, whether the receiving school could accommodate the additional pupils and whether there were any travel issues which would preclude the proposal from being implemented. Councillor Morton confirmed that she would not seek to apply a time or distance threshold to journey times but would consider all aspects of a pupil’s journey to school.
Councillor Morton said:
“The pre consultation meetings are in addition to the statutory requirement. The council agreed these should be held as a model of good practice and to ensure we understand fully the potential impacts of a school merger on a community. We view this as a positive addition to the process”.
The pre consultation process was developed following discussions with ARSN and a letter will be sent out to Parent Councils at the end of this week with further information.
Additional detail on the pre-consultation phase is contained in Appendix B of the council paper approved on 3 March, which can be accessed here.
NOTES FOR EDITORS
The Scottish Government last week indicated an interest in carrying out a research project with the Glasgow School of Art into community impact assessment through pre consultation meetings. The terms of reference are very similar to the detail in the Council paper considered on the 3rd March 2010.
The following criteria was used for assessing primary schools for pre-consultation:
Education estate review - Criteria for assessing primary schools
Argyll and Bute Council is reviewing its school estate in order to:
- Deliver a more efficient and sustainable operation of the school estate
- Maximise the proportion of resources available for the direct delivery of education services
- Minimise the risk of adverse impacts on education outcomes
Primary schools’ efficiency is assessed against the following criteria, consistent with the CIPFA Guide to Asset Management and Capital Planning in Local Authorities:
- Occupancy levels
- Cost per pupil
- Sufficiency of provision
- Building condition
- Energy use per pupil
This information provides a baseline for comparison. It does not provide a stand-alone method of determining whether or not any school should be included in proposals for pre-consultation.
Feasibility criteria will also be considered:
- Does the proposal present a positive educational case?
- Is the building suitable?
- Will the proposal deliver a financial saving to the council?
- Are there any travel issues which would prevent the proposal being successfully implemented?
- Does the proposed receiving school have sufficient capacity to accommodate pupils from the amalgamating schools?
- What will be the impact of any change on the community?
Any decision to include schools in proposals for pre-consultation meetings will consider feedback received from stakeholder groups since the review started.
Criteria for inclusion in the proposals are not based on any single formula or calculation. All of the criteria will be considered, although the significance of each criteria will vary from school to school. Schools will not be selected for inclusion in the pre-consultation proposals based on an overall ‘score’. Instead a holistic view will be taken of individual schools and the potential educational benefit of any suggested change.