Powys Secondary School and Post 16 Modernisation Programme Strategic Outline Programme

Powys Secondary School and Post 16 Modernisation Programme

Strategic Outline Programme

The Strategic Outline Programme (SOP) for Powys Schools Modernisation was released on the 11th of June 2010 with a request that any interested party respond to the five questions listed below by the 31st of July 2010.  Beyond this the SOP also contained seven possible models for the delivery and governance of Secondary and Post 16 education within Powys.  These seven models are also identified below.

The five questions posed on the feedback form are as follows:

1. How can we ensure that children and young people have a wider choice of subjects, including vocational subjects?

At the present time the ‘wider choice of subjects’ is largely facilitated through the link with Coleg Powys at Key Stage Four and Key Stage Five as part of the Powys 14-19 network.  For September 2010 we have a cohort of 18 Year 10 students who will be accessing three different Vocational courses at Coleg Powys each Friday.  The Year 11 cohort in September 2010 will be continuing with their existing programme at Coleg Powys.

At Key Stage Five our Sixth Form Prospectus has offered the opportunity for potential Sixth Form students to access two further Vocational courses at Coleg Powys and two of our existing twenty one A Level courses are also Vocational – Health & Social Care and Performing Arts

The requirement to broaden our curriculum at Key Stages Four and Five is a statutory obligation required by the Welsh Assembly Government through the Learning and Skills Measure 2009.  Working with Coleg Powys and Coleg Gwent, Crickhowell High School currently meets the measure at both Key Stage Four and Five and this is reflected in our consistent success in terms of public examination performance.

3. How can we make sure that our schools are financially sustainable in future years, given the current and future economic outlook?

Our response to this question is a simple one.  We would like there to be a level playing field as far as the current Fair Funding Formula is concerned.  The existing arrangements have penalised CHS in every single financial year since 2002/2003.  Had the school received the average secondary school delegated funding figure per student then we would have been in receipt of an additional £1 million of revenue funding over this period of time.  Although the Local Authority has made one concession within the formula for the current financial year regarding average teaching cost, our individual delegated budget figure per pupil is the lowest within Powys for 2010/2011 with the exception of Welshpool High School.

4. How can we make sure that we meet the needs of children who learn through the medium of Welsh or bilingually?

As CHS is an English medium school where Welsh is taught as a second language, our principal concern is the way in which current funding is distributed to meet the needs of bilingual teaching which operates in eight of the thirteen High Schools.  The South Powys Headteacher Group has suggested that there is scope for the development of one Welsh Medium School in the South which would serve the needs of those students wishing to access their education through the medium of Welsh.

5. How can our schools become even more of a focus for our local communities, and provide a wider range of public services other than just education?

In order to facilitate the provision of a wider range of public services at Crickhowell High School, a good starting point from our point of view would be the creation of single site management as opposed to the current tripartite system involving education, leisure and youth and community.  It simply does not make sense to have three separate management and accounting systems on a single purpose built site.

Were single site management available then it should be feasible to extend the range of services available on site without jeopardising current usage.  There are already a wide range of community activities operating at CHS during the day, evening, weekends and holidays and we would like to extend this:  we are committed to CHS becoming a vibrant community school.

6. How can we make sure that we provide the best possible education service to our most vulnerable children and young people?

As well as ensuring that there is a level playing field in terms of funding, including SEN core funding, it is incumbent upon every school to be as inclusive as possible in terms of meeting the needs of vulnerable children and those children with additional learning needs.  There is little doubt that Crickhowell High School meets these criteria.

The Strategic Outline Plan also identifies the following seven models which will be the subject of further development work by Powys between now and September 2010.

Model  1:             Do nothing (current infrastructure)

Model  2:             Learning Hubs for 11-19 year olds

Model 3:              Learning Hubs for 14-19 year olds

Model 4:              Tertiary System(schools will provide education for 11-16 year olds whilst Post-16 is managed and delivered through another arrangement).

Model 5:            Area Consortia for 11-19 year olds.

Model 6:            Area Consortia for 16-19 year olds.

Model 7:            All Through Schools for 3-19 year olds.

While it is tempting to look at the implications of each of these models in detail as far as CHS is concerned it is perhaps better to examine the current position of CHS with regard to elements of the all of the models.  As matters stand at present, CHS is one of only two schools that are currently over subscribed within Powys in terms of the total number of students on roll.  However, whilst our current Year Groups in 7 to 11 exceed capacity, the projected intake for Year 7 in September 2010 (100) is below that which we have been accustomed to.  A closer analysis of the figures indicates a decline in the out of county numbers.  This may or may not have been caused by the leaked document in January 2010.  Either way, projected numbers in the Powys Primary Schools are steady for the next five years at around the 70 pupil mark.

At Sixth Form level we anticipate that we will have in excess of 140 students on roll in September 2010.  We continue to retain the highest proportion of the Year 11 cohort when compared to other schools in Powys and we also attract anything between eight or ten students from other centres each year.   The number of sixth form students is critical since Powys have adopted the rather questionable Welsh Assembly Government Transformation Policy document which suggests that each Sixth Form should consist of at least 150 students.  At the present time there are only two schools in Powys with a Sixth Form in excess of 150 (Welshpool and Llanfyllin).

Moreover, our academic track record at 16+ is second to none and with the addition of WBQ point scores for our current Year 13 cohort our position will be further strengthened.  We are also one of only two schools in Powys where Key Stage Three and Key Stage Four funding does not subsidise Sixth Form provision.  In fact, for the current financial year we calculate that our Sixth Form numbers have provided a cross phase subsidy to pre 16 of about £30,000.

It is likely that our Sixth Form numbers will continue to be around the 140 mark for the next four years as our current Year Groups from 8 through to 11 pass through the school and assuming that we maintain our current levels of retention.  Either way, it is difficult to envisage students from CHS accessing other learning activities within Powys given the geographical difficulties that exist.  Technology and Distance Learning Packages may offer a partial solution but the evidence to date is far from conclusive.