Proposals to close two Cardiff secondary schools and reopen them as one to improve educational standards in the east of the city will go before councillors later this week.
Cardiff Council’s cabinet will consider two reports on the future of Llanrumney and Rumney high schools at its meeting on Thursday.
One of the reports recommends publishing a statutory notice seeking the closure of both schools and replacing them with a single school on the site of Rumney High in September 2014. It then proposes that all pupils from this single school be transferred to a brand new “state-of-the-art” site in September 2016, with a list of candidate sites to be revealed in the new year for consultation.
The other report recommends the introduction of Wales’ first Education Improvement Partnership (EIP) in the Rumney and Llanrumney catchment areas from January 2013, which would see both schools work with a range of organisations, such as healthcare and youth services, to improve education standards and performance.
If approved, the EIP would also see all pupils from Llanrumney moving to the Rumney High site from September 2013.
Despite operating from the same site, the two schools would technically remain separate for the academic year of 2013/2014, with teaching staff from both being maintained for that year.
However, the launch of the EIP would allow the creation of a temporary governing body for the proposed single replacement school to be put in place, which could then appoint a head teacher for the new school.
This new head teacher would take up their post from September 2013, and spend the academic year of 2013/2014 planing for the creation of the new school to be opened on the Rumney site in September 2014 and the yet-to-be-determined new site in September 2016.
No new school on Rumney Rec
Cardiff Council’s cabinet member for education and lifelong learning, Councillor Julia Magill, could not give any details of where the site of the new school might be, except to say that it would not be on Rumney Recreation Ground – previously the site of controversial plans for a new school scrapped by the council’s previous administration.
Teachers, parents, pupils and governors who responded to a consultation on the creation of the EIP – 91.9% of which agreed with its establishment in east Cardiff – suggested this new school could potentially go by the name of Cardiff East Community High School, Cardiff East Community College, or Cardiff East Education Improvement Partnership.
97% of those who responded to the EIP consultation said key priorities for the east Cardiff EIP should be improving achievement levels, while 96% said improving behaviour should be a key goal. Other priorities included improving attendance, improving ethos, extending services the school provides and reducing the number of people not in education, employment or training.
Coun Magill said: “Education standards in the east of the city need to be addressed and raised without further delay. The consultation results have given us a clear indication that the establishment of an EIP in the east of the city is seen as an opportunity to achieve better educational outcomes.
“Our priority is to build a brand new high school to replace the existing Llanrumney and Rumney High Schools, on a suitable site, and we will be consulting the community about a number of potential sites in the New Year. The Education Improvement Partnership which will involve representatives from the schools, the community and other key organisations can start working together to begin to make a real difference in the interim period before the school opens.”
Coun Magill added that due to falling numbers at both secondary schools in recent years, Rumney High would have more than enough capacity to cope with the intake of pupils from Llanrumney in September 2013. Llanrumney’s capacity is currently 1,432 but the school has just 410 pupils, while Rumney’s capacity is 1,407, and the numbers on roll are 662.
Coun Magill said that subject to final approval, £1.75 million would be made available through the Welsh Government’s 21st Century Schools programme for the implementation of the EIP, including any necessary work to the Rumney High site.
She added that the new high school would also provide academic and vocational provision for over 16s, with Cardiff and Vale and St David’s Colleges expected to provide this, although it would be up to the colleges and the new school to decide when this is introduced.