School Catchment (1) Areas Dinefwr

(1) Catchment Area refers to the geographical area from which pupils are normally expected to attend a specific school. It is sometimes referred to as the Defined Area, Link Area, or School Zone.

Section 1

1.1 Context and Background

In 2008 the Council commenced its Tri-Level Reform (2) initiative in an area of the County bounded by the secondary school catchments of Pantycelyn, Tregib, Amman Valley, Maesyryrfa and Gwendraeth. Since 1996 the Education Authority has identified this area for planning purposes as the Dinefwr Area.

(2) Documents and Reports relating to the Tri-Level Initiative have been debated and agreed by the Council at various times over the last two years. These documents are available on the Council's website.

When it became apparent that the Tri-Level initiative would entail significant and far-reaching changes to education in the Area it became clear that there was a need to review the catchment areas of all schools; both the the revised secondary arrangement and the primary schools making up the families.

Not only would this exercise provide an update to the current catchments in keeping with the changes in secondary provision but also, at the same time allow some historic anomalies to be addressed. The outcome would be the provision of a digitised set of maps, available to schools in a paper format and then subsequently placed on the website of the Council for public perusal. Thus, a member of the public could enter a postcode and the first line of an address and receive immediate confirmation of the catchment area schools, both primary and secondary.

An exercise has been undertaken to assess the numbers of existing pupils and future demand (3) in relation to specific schools in the Area and which now informs this report on the catchment areas.

(3) Further information is available within the MEP Report of June 2009 Demographic Review of Schools in Carmarthenshire. This includes information on surplus places.

The key conclusions drawn from the review are:

Pupil/teacher ratios and class sizes in Carmarthenshire are lower (more favourable) than the Welsh average.

Birth rates in Carmarthenshire have been increasing since 2001. Generally, the trend of increasing births commenced earlier in Carmarthenshire than the rest of Wales and the rate of increase in the local birth rate has been significantly higher that the national trend.

Birth rates are expected to continue to increase to around 1960 per annum by 2011/2012 and then plateaux at this level up to around 2019/2020, following which there is expected to be a decline to around 1880 per annum to 2030/2031.

Actual local birth rates during the past couple of years have exceeded the most recent WAG projections.

In the light of the above, the planning of school places to the end of the next decade (to 2020) should prudently assume an annual birth rate of 1960 children, noting that the “rising fours” policy will require that reception arrangements within schools will need to be able to accommodate births spanning two years.

The child population (0 to 15 years) is predicted to increase up to 2026 and decline thereafter. The peak child population in 2026 is expected to be around 35,000, an increase of some 5.4% on 2006 actual figures.

In recent years the pupil forecasting methodology applied by the County Council has yielded accurate predictions, which have informed the effective planning of pupil places. However, in view of the significant change in demographic trends over recent years, particularly the increase in the birth rate, and bearing in mind that to date forward projections have relied upon past trends, it will be prudent to review the forecasting methodology to assess whether it can be improved in the light of stronger data and intelligence set to be provided through collaboration with the Hywel Dda National Health Trust.

Overall the total number of places available in the reception and nursery years within schools may be sufficient to deal with the number of children expected. Within this broad position it is probable that some individual schools will experience space shortages in being able to implement the “rising fours” policy and it is possible that at a small number of schools additional accommodation will need to be provided.

With an increasing school population expected in future years it is likely that the Council’s Admissions Policy will need to be applied more robustly than has been required in past years in order to manage the strategic provision of school places. Whilst there will still be significant numbers of surplus places across the schools network the combined effect of the increasing birth rate, the expected net positive inward migration of children and the “rising fours” policy is likely to be a reduction in the flexibility of the availability of places at the entry to school stage, with the consequence that expressions of parental preference will be more difficult to accommodate that has been the case in past years. It is likely that the Council will experience an increasing number of appeals from parents whose expressions of preference for a school has not been able to be accommodated

1.2 Legislative Context

The 1944 Education Act gave pupils the right to be educated in accordance with the wishes of their parents. This right is reinforced through the provisions of Section 9 of the Education Act 1996 which places upon authorities a statutory duty to secure provision of sufficient school places and in so doing to have regard to the general principle that pupils should be educated in accordance with the wishes of their parents, so far as that is compatible with the provision of efficient instruction and the avoidance of unreasonable public expenditure.

The Welsh Assembly Government has published guidance on the language categorisation of schools according to the proportion of the curriculum delivered though the medium of Welsh. Whilst these categories have no statutory standing WAG requires schools to confirm each year which category they regard themselves to be positioned within. This is done through the annual statutory pupil count and reporting process, which is conducted in January each year. Further information on the language categories of schools is presented later as Appendix A in this document. The Department for Education and Children uses these new categories to inform the strategic planning of school places.

Under Section 5 of the Welsh Language Act 1993 local education authorities are required to produce and implement a Welsh Language Scheme dealing specifically with education, stating how they intend to promote and develop access to Welsh medium education, on the basis of a detailed understanding of forecast need.

Section 26 of the Children Act 2004, supported by the Children and Young People’s Plans (Wales) Regulations 2007, requires every local authority in Wales to prepare and publish a Children and Young People’s Plan, to include within Core Aim 2 the provision of an appropriate number of school places.

1.3 Admissions Policy

Carmarthenshire County Council’s policy for the admission of children to schools is well established and documented. The policy is articulated for parents, school governing bodies and head teachers in the publication entitled Carmarthenshire Schools Information for Parents, which is published annually. The document for 2010/2011 was published in December 2009.

The fundamental principle of the policy is that places are provided to meet demand arising from within a school’s designated catchment area, up to the Published Admissions Number. The operation of a catchment area system allows the LEA to take a strategic overview of the provision of school places and to manage the provision of places in a manner that promotes the effective delivery of education and the efficient use of resources, is transparent and is equitable for all stakeholders.

The document includes the following policy statements:

Each school has an area that it traditionally serves, sometimes known as the catchment area. Although not always possible, each school is expected to accommodate all pupils from within the catchment area ….. The LEA and school governors must comply with any preference which is expressed provided it does not affect one of the following:

It is possible, therefore, that parents may not be successful in gaining a place at their preferred school.

Every school has a Published Admission Number (PAN), which is the entry number. All schools must admit pupils up to their admission number before applicants can be refused admission on grounds that the school is full.

The admission number for each school has been set by using regulations determined by the Welsh Assembly Government.

1.4 National School Organisation Policy

In meeting its statutory obligation to provide and manage school places a LEA is not expected to provide places solely to meet the preferences of parents. The LEA must take a broader view and must manage provision strategically.

National Assembly for Wales Circular 23/02: School Organisation Proposals, which sets out guidance for local education authorities and others involved in the organisation and management of schools, considers the issue of increasing provision at popular schools, stating:

Any proposed change that would significantly increase the number of places at a particular school should only be made where the change is demonstrably in the best interests of all local children.

1.4.1 The School Effectiveness Framework, System Leadership and Collaboration

The School Effectiveness Framework has been developed by the Welsh Assembly Government in collaboration with key stakeholders. It sets out the vision for putting school effectiveness based on tri-level reform into action. Tri-level reform is the whole of the education community (schools, local authorities and the Assembly Government) working collaboratively and in alignment. The Framework describes the key characteristics required to build on existing good practice and improve children and young people's learning throughout Wales, and each partner's contribution to ensure this happens.

Schools do not exist in isolation. They operate within a local context,(with a history and complexity that is constantly changing. The people within a school community - and the way they interact with one another - are the most important factor in the way the school works. However, it is vital that schools are viewed not just as systems within themselves, but as part of the wider educational system in Wales. Successful tri-level reform requires systems thinking.

Systems thinking to effect tri-level reform requires a different kind of working. It advocates that schools work in cluster groups or families of schools. Most importantly, it needs capacity to be built at all levels and collaboration to be the natural way that people at all levels operate. System leaders care about, and work for, the success of other schools as well as their own. They measure their success in terms of improving student learning and increasing achievement. Crucially they are willing to shoulder system leadership roles in the belief that in order to change the larger system there needs to be meaningful engagement.

1.5 Carmarthenshire County Council Welsh Education Scheme

Carmarthenshire County Council’s Welsh Education Scheme was published in September 2006 having been approved by the Welsh Language Board that month.

The Scheme notes:

Carmarthenshire County Council is committed to the principle that Welsh and English should be treated equally.

Some 66% of pupils in the primary sector receive their education primarily through the medium of Welsh in WM schools. For definition of WM schools please refer to Page 11 of Defining Schools according to Welsh Medium Provision (see 1.5.1)

In the secondary sector 24% of pupils receive Welsh medium education at either the three Bilingual Schools, Bro Myrddin, Maesyryrfa and Y Strade, or in other schools where opportunities are given to pursue some curricular areas through the medium of Welsh.

Historically, the geographical areas where primary schools were located were defined in line with their traditional linguistic background. Category A schools were located in rural areas which were the traditional stronghold of the Welsh language. Parallel to these, due to the Anglicisation of larger towns, Welsh schools were established. In Category A and Welsh schools, Welsh was taught as a first language and was used as the main medium of teaching the rest of the curriculum in both key stages. Most of the other schools in the county were defined as Category B schools. They were located in the more Anglicised areas. Welsh was taught as a second language but English was the main language of teaching in both key stages. Category B schools were required to raise pupil’s awareness of Welsh by ensuring a Welsh ethos and environment in the schools and through regular use of Welsh in the daily life of the school. The long term aim for these schools was to ensure that the pupils were bilingual by the time they left the primary sector, in line with the Council’s language policy. In secondary schools a clear and consistent emphasis was placed on continuing the principles of the primary policy.

The fundamental principles and aims of the policy reflect the definitions in “Iaith Pawb”:

to urge individuals to learn and use Welsh;

to extend access to Welsh medium teaching;

to empower individuals to decide on the language/languages for life;

to promote the advantages of bilingualism.

The main aims and objectives of the Scheme, relevant to school organisation, include:

To ensure that Welsh medium or bilingual education is available to all children whose parents/guardians wish them to receive their education though the medium of Welsh or bilingually, and within a reasonable travelling distance from the children’s homes.

To ensure a developing continuum from Welsh medium/bilingual primary education through to Welsh medium/bilingual secondary education.

The Scheme records the number of Category A and Welsh primary schools in the county (at the time of its adoption) and, significantly, notes that “there is no clearly defined difference between these schools nor an expectation of the percentage of the curriculum to be taught through the medium of Welsh first language programme of study and Welsh is the main language of teaching in both key stages. The Authority is of the opinion, however, that at least 70% of teaching and learning time should be through the medium of Welsh throughout key stage 2 as the stated aim of the policy is to ensure that pupils are fully bilingual before leaving the primary sector.”

1.5.1 Defining Schools According to Welsh Medium Provision (5)

In October 2007 the Welsh Assembly Government published an information document (023/2007) entitled “Defining Schools According to Welsh Medium Provision” in which it set out definitions for new school categories. The definitions are informal in the sense that they have no statutory basis but WAG is seeking the cooperation of schools and local authorities in adopting the new classifications.

Governors of schools were required to use the categories and definitions to describe their school and include this information in the school prospectus as soon as possible. The new categories were used formally for the first time in the statutory pupil count conducted in January 2008 and from 2010 will completely replace the former categories. Local Education Authorities were required to incorporate the new definitions into their admission documents from September 2007 onwards.

The new category definitions are:

Primary Schools

Category 1 (WM) – Welsh Medium Primary School: All pupils in the Foundation Phase experience the areas of learning through the medium of Welsh. Welsh is the main teaching medium at KS2 with at least 70% of the teaching through the medium of Welsh. Welsh is the language of the day to day business of the school.

Category 2 (DS) – Dual Stream Primary School: Two types of provision exist side-by-side. Parents/pupils opt either for the mainly Welsh-medium or mainly English-medium provision. Both Welsh and English are used in the day to day business of the school. The language of communication with the pupils is determined by the nature of the curricular provision, but in some schools high priority is given to creating a Welsh language ethos throughout the school.

Category 3 (TR) – Transitional Primary School: Welsh Medium with Significant Use of English: Pupils in the Foundation Phase experience the areas of learning mainly through the medium of Welsh. Both languages are used in teaching at Key Stage 2 but with greater emphasis on Welsh. Welsh is used as the medium of instruction for over half and up to 70% of the curriculum. Welsh is the language of the day to day business of the school. Schools would normally be in this category on a temporary basis.

Category 4 (EW) – Predominantly English Medium Primary School but with Significant use of Welsh: Pupils in the Foundation Phase experience the areas of learning in both languages but with greater emphasis on English. In Key Stage 2 both Welsh and English is used in teaching but there is greater emphasis on English. Welsh is used as the medium of teaching between 20% and 50% of the primary curriculum overall.

Category 5 (EM) – Predominantly English Medium Primary School: All pupils in the Foundation Phase experience the areas of learning mainly through the medium of English. English is the main teaching medium at KS2. Welsh is taught as a second language in KS2. Less than 20% of the teaching is through the medium of Welsh. English is the day to day language of the school

Secondary Schools

Category 1 – Welsh Medium Secondary School: All subjects (including RE and PSE) apart from English are taught through the medium of Welsh to all pupils. Welsh is the day to day language of the school. The assessment of pupils at KS3 and KS4 will be through the medium of Welsh in all subjects apart from English or other languages.

Category 2 - Bilingual Secondary School

Category 2a: At least 80% of subjects apart from English and Welsh are taught only through the medium of Welsh to all pupils.

Category 2b: At least 80% of subjects (excluding Welsh and English) are taught through the medium of Welsh but are also taught through the medium of English.

Category 2c: 50 - 79% of subjects (excluding Welsh and English) are taught through the medium of Welsh but are also taught through the medium of English.

Category 2d: All subjects, except Welsh and English, are taught to all pupils using both languages.The day to day language or languages of the school will be determined by its linguistic context.

Category 3 – Predominantly English Medium Secondary School with Significant Use of Welsh: Both languages are used in teaching with 20 – 49% of subjects taught through the medium of Welsh. All subjects would normally be taught through the medium of English. The day to day language or languages of the school will be determined by its linguistic context.

Category 4 – Predominantly English Medium Secondary School: Pupils are mainly taught through the medium of English. Welsh is taught as a second language up to KS4. English is the day to day language of the school.

(5) Please refer to Appendix A for how schools in Dinefwr categorised themselves in the 2010 PLASC return.

Section 2

2.1 School Catchment Areas in Dinefwr – Review Framework

This work has reviewed the catchment areas and admission arrangements for the Community and Voluntary Controlled schools in Dinefwr and for which the Council is the Admission Authority. Also the comments from Voluntary Aided schools with regard to their catchment areas has been considered, and for which the governing bodies themselves are the Admission Authorities. Whereas, historically, amendments to school catchment areas have tended to be taken on an individual basis in keeping with a school closure or opening, given the background as explained in the various existing reports there is a reasonable argument for a comprehensive review of all admission arrangements across the Area.

School catchment areas are used:

● to give parents an indication of their local school. 

● to help schools identify with the communities they serve 

● to prioritise admissions to schools when there are more applications than places available. Residence within catchment area is one of the admission criteria in Carmarthenshire, ensuring that schools are available to serve local children first 

● as a planning tool to enable the Authority to fulfil its duty to forecast demand for education in an area and to plan to meet that demand 

● as an element of transport policy in order to facilitate the organisation of school transport and control costs.

2.2 Arguments For and Against Retaining, Changing Or

Removing Catchment Areas

2.2.1 Retaining existing Catchment Areas

RETAINING EXISTING CATCHMENT AREAS

The existing arrangements are proven and are generally

considered to work well for the vast majority of parents. Carmarthenshire was able to offer 99% of parents their preferred primary school without appeal in 2009 and 2010.

Parental preference would not be affected by any new arrangements.

Parents who live ‘in between’ schools could be directed to attend a

school further away unless catchment areas are retained.

Catchment areas will provide ‘greater certainty for the area as a whole’

to enable parents, schools and other stakeholders to understand the

factors that exist in making an informed decision around school

admissions.

Every community has a school within its immediate local area in line

with the aim to locate schools at the heart of the

community.

Although not in each immediate area there are also locally-accessible Welsh 1st Lang and denominational provision.

Retaining existing catchment areas provides a sense of community and

provides the opportunity to build community cohesion.

If there were to be no catchments a distance criterion might not reflect the geographical area or community.

By retaining the existing catchment areas the advice and guidance

given to parents remains stable and is not affected year on year by the

number of applicants and how far away they may live from the school.

Families that live on the perimeter of a catchment area would have the

benefit of having a school assigned to their address, which would give

them clarity when making their preferences.

The existing school transport arrangements, if any, would not be affected.

REMOVING CATCHMENT AREAS

2.2.2 Removing Catchment Areas

Parental preference would not be reduced by the arrangements.

On occasions the catchment area school is not the nearest to a

pupil’s home address, and removing the catchment area would give priority to the pupil living closest to any preferred school.

There would no longer be the need to amend catchment areas when

new schools are built or in areas of housing development.

Removing catchment areas would provide simpler information to

parents and give the perception of the freedom to express a preference for any school without the restriction of a catchment area.

By removing catchment areas a school has the opportunity to build

community cohesion based on the school population and proximity

rather than a specifically designed area.

The School Admissions Code requirement that the Local Authority

must take account of ‘factors that might unfairly advantage of

disadvantage one child compared with another’ must be noted so

families who are less able to afford property nearest the school are not

disenfranchised. This applies only to England but nevertheless could be considered.

The existing school transport arrangements would need to be

reviewed, which could potentially have cost implications.

The removal of catchment areas is not common. However,

there are certain examples of other English Local Authorities that use this method for admission with varying degrees of success.

If we were to agree to remove catchment areas, the Local

Authority would look for support from the Voluntary Aided

Schools to review their own admission arrangements in line with this

2.2.3 Revising Catchment Areas

CHANGING CATCHMENT AREA BOUNDARIES

In my initial meeting with Heads there was no strong desire for wholescale change to catchment area boundaries. The prevailing view is that a rationalisation may be sensible where there are obvious anomalies such as a boundary bisecting a set of houses; or when historic custom and practice does not align with the current paper-based maps.

The subsequent written comments received from schools bears this out.

A small change in boundaries can in a very few cases be controversial and can create a perception of ‘winners’ and ‘losers’. Nevertheless, if the Council can demonstrate a valid and reasoned logical case for change then it is bound to do so to satisfy its strategic role.

Changes to catchment area boundaries can disrupt historical perceptions and expectations of parents. However, it must be recognised that a significant number of primary-age pupils already cross catchment boundaries and that the reasons for doing so are valid in many cases; these reasons include admission to a Welsh 1st Language or denominational school, or to facilitate pre- and after-school care arrangements.

Changing the boundaries would allow the Local Authority to ‘tidy up’

some historical anomalies.

PROMOTION OF THE SIBLING CRITERION WITHIN THE ADMISSION

Parental preference would not be reduced by the arrangements.

Families could retain the sibling link and be confident in making a

school choice knowing that younger siblings would have a greater

chance of admission at the same school and avoid having the

difficulties of having children at different schools.

Could reduce the number of places available at schools for ‘local’ firstborn

children, which could result in the school being populated by

‘outsiders’. This only applies when the school is fully up to its Published Admission Number but we must take recognise (through MEP) that this could happen.

The promotion of the sibling criterion could have an adverse affect on

the existing catchment areas because if a school admitted a large

number of siblings, the catchment area could be ineffective because it

could contain too many first born children.

Some local children may not be able to attend their local school.

2.3 Analysis (Primary schools)

While statistical analysis (4) of the data in itself can be an useful objective exercise it needs to be contextualised if it is to be meaningful.

(4) Please refer to Appendix B for the detailed statistics.

An explanation for one of the schools, chosen at random will illustrate the movement across catchments and the difficulty it entails for strategic planning of sufficient, but few surplus places :

Saron has 237 pupils of which 133 (56%) live within the catchment, with 104 pupils (44%) from outside. It has a capacity of 230 pupils. Therefore, it appears that the school is over-full. Another 63 pupils live within the catchment but choose to attend another school. If all the pupils who live within the catchment, and no others, chose to attend the school then it would have 34 spare places.

Valid measurable factors for parental preference include attendance at Welsh 1st language schools. A perception exists certainly among some parents that some primary schools are in a category referred to as Designated Welsh Schools; Ysgol Teilo Sant and Ysgol Gymraeg Rhydaman being two such examples. However, under the current Defining Schools According to Welsh-medium Provision document they provide a curriculum identified as WM (Welsh-medium) placing them in exactly the same category as most other schools in this Area. It should be recognised of course that under the current parental preference regulations and if the Published Admission Number for a school is not exceeded children will, by law, be admitted to the favoured school.

In the same vein some pupils will move across catchments to attend a denominational provision.

Other factors which influence movement include the provision of pre-school Early Years education in close proximity to a more distant school, leading to a preference by the parent to register at that more distant school when the child attains the relevant age on the basis of a friendship group established at the Early Years provision.

The location of after-school childcare is another determining factor which has an effect, as is that of early morning breakfast club provision. Also, the location of a parent’s workplace, and the ease of getting a child to a particular school on the ‘morning school run’ are sometimes quoted as determining factors.

While spare places remain at the preferred schools and that they are not so distant from each other that parents can claim free transport, movement, in itself, does not present a problem for the Authority.

2.4 Mapping

The comments subsequently received, analysed, and considered during this current exercise have now been incorporated into a set of 2010 maps for all schools. It should be made clear that while some obvious anomalies have been resolved, it remains that in some other cases where there were conflicting views from the schools decisions have been made by officers based on the arguments and requirements highlighted in this report. It is a matter for the Executive Board of the Council to uphold these decisions, or not as the case may be.

Please refer to Appendix C for a table that contains, school by school, the comments received from the governing body and the decision reached. Further comments received following a seminar for elected members of the Dinefwr area are also included as updates. The set of maps identified as Appendix D provides a visual representation to coincide with the comments.

The catchment areas of these schools are clearly defined and do not overlap.

There is a ‘local’ provision available obviating the need to travel unacceptable distances.

The schools themselves are within the bounds of what is considered a reasonable size for best educational provision.

2.5 Analysis (Secondary schools)

At time of writing there are five secondary schools to be considered :

Pantycelyn

Tregib

Amman Valley

Maesyryrfa

Gwendraeth

However, the Tri-Level reform initiative accepted by the Council and now in a period of consultation refers to the existence in future of three learning institutions, thus ;

A new educational provision to replace Pantycelyn and Tregib schools. The location for this has not been finally decided but this paper makes the assumption that it will remain within the area of Dinefwr already served by the two current schools. This will be defined as a Category 2b Bilingual School.

Education at the Amman Valley school site to be provided at a refurbished and extended building. This will also be a Category 2b Bilingual School.

An extension to the current Maesyryrfa building to incorporate the Gwendraeth school facility. The intention is that this will be a Category 2a Bilingual School.

2.5.1 Relationship between Primary and Secondary catchments

Consideration has been given to how the Tri-Level Reform would impinge on the revised Primary school catchments and whether it was appropriate to redesignate schools within the current families. The preferred option of the secondary schools and Education and Children's Services officers is that no change would be made at this time and that the current families would remain as is, but only until a final decision is taken on the proposed tri-level proposals. At that time a model of transition from the current situation across the five secondary locations to the three-location model which would finally exist, would be enacted. This means that individual school years would transfer year-by-year according to a published plan. Another option would be to keep to the status quo until such time as all building work in the three locations is complete. Both models have advantages and disadvantages and more work needs to be done to come to a coherent view on which is to be favoured.

It should be noted that the majority of Primary schools will remain within the current families although a few will belong to a new family grouping.

2.5.2 Interim and future arrangements

Caio, Capel Cynfab, Cilycwm, Rhys Pritchard, Llansadwrn, Llanwrda and Llangadog remain within the catchment of Pantycelyn, until such time as that school closes and then become amalgamated into the catchment of the new school replacing Pantycelyn.

Those pupils then seeking a Category 2b linguistic provision will be deemed to be in the catchment of the new school replacing Tregib and Pantycelyn.

Llansawel, Talley, Llandeilo, Teilo Sant, Cwmifor, Ffairfach, Llandybie, Blaenau, Penygroes, Nantygroes, Cwrt Henri and Llanfynydd remain within the catchment of Tregib until such time as that school closes and then become amalgamated into the catchment of the new school replacing Tregib.

Those pupils then seeking a Category 2b linguistic provision will be deemed to be in the catchment of the new school replacing Tregib and Pantycelyn.

Ystradowen, Cefnbrynbrain, Brynaman, Y Bedol, Betws, Bro Banw, Gymraeg Rhydaman, Saron, Parcyrhun, Tycroes and Llanedi remain within the catchment of an extended and refurbished Amman Valley building.

Those pupils then seeking a Category 2b linguistic provision will be deemed to be in the catchment of the Amman Valley school.

Maesybont, Cefneithin, Cross Hands, Llechyfedach, Gorslas, Llannon, Tymbl, Drefach, Pontyberem, Bancffosfelen, Llanddarog, Gwynfryn, Ponthenri, Pontiets and Carway remain within the catchment of Gwendraeth until that school amalgamates with Maesyryrfa.

Following amalgamation these schools will be within the Maesyryrfa catchment for those preferring Category 2a linguistic provision. For those preferring a Category 2b provision then the following will apply :

Llanddarog, Maesybont and Gorslas will be within the catchment of the school replacing Tregib.

Bancffosfelen, Llannon, Drefach, Cross Hands, Cefneithin, Llechyfedach, Pontyberem and Tymbl will be within the catchment of Amman Valley.

Further consideration will need to be given at the appropriate time to the family allegiance of Carway, Pontiets, Ponthenri and Gwynfryn. The appropriate time could be when the secondary reorganisation is complete, or when a decision is made on any future amalgamation of the four primary schools, whichever is sooner.

If it is deemed appropriate to keep these communities in Dinefwr then they will belong to the Amman Valley family. A strong case can however be made for including them within the Glanymor and Y Strade families.

The rationale for these decisions is based on community cohesion within Dinefwr, and also on the travelling distances involved together with associated costs, and also recognising that in several cases the home addresses are actually nearer to schools outside Dinefwr : Glanymor in the case of those pupils in the south-west of the Area and Queen Elizabeth in the case of Llanddarog, Gwynfryn and Bancffosfelen being geographically nearer than the designated (catchment schools). Transport would be provided to these secondary schools under the nearest qualification if pupils preferred those schools.

Appendix E demonstrates the distances from Amman Valley and the possible location at Ffairfach for the proposed new Category 2b school. It is recognised that the use of a concentric circles model can only be a second-best approximation of travelling distances and that plotting each individuals home address would improve the model. However, given that the proposed changes are some years away then at this stage the preferred choice of prospective pupils and consequently their addresses is unknown.

In keeping with the policy of the Council to provide access to a 2a Bilingual provision for all secondary-age pupils the current position is that all schools within Dinefwr also fall within the Maesyryrfa catchment except for the following named schools that are within the Bro Myrddin catchment :

Cwrt Henri, Llandeilo, Teilo Sant, Llanfynydd, Llansawel and Talley. (It should be noted that some home addresses in these specific catchments, while within the catchment of Bro Myrddin are nearer to Maesyryrfa and therefore can claim transport to either school. (Example 2 of Transport Section 2.6.1 refers)).

It is appropriate at this time to :

include all Dinefwr area schools within the catchment of Maesyryrfa. This will still allow access to a 2a linguistic provision for those that prefer it, while at the same time creating a coherent Dinefwr 'family'. It is suggested that the timing for this change be in keeping with that for the other changes envisaged. It also removes the anomaly whereby some children, specifically in the Llandeilo area are within the catchment of Bro Myrddin but geographically closer to Maesyryrfa and can thus demand to be transported to either of these two 2a schools.

Please refer to the maps in Appendix D for an overview of the future secondary school catchments and also to section 2.6.1 for an explanation of how this has a bearing on the provision of transport.

As explained above the arguments for and against redesignating families range from the more objectively-calculated reduction in transport costs weighed against capital expenditure costs, to the more subjective issues of community identity within Dinefwr. Further developments in the MEP programme were also considered and are explained below in 2.6.2.

(Please refer to Appendix C Update for commentary on Llandybie, also Gorslas/Cefneithin/Drefach and also Bro Banw/Betws)

2.6 Implications

2.6.1 Transport

The relationship between the various regulations on catchment areas, admission to schools and the provision of free transport is complex and often misinterpreted by the public. This is the position :

Please refer to the background rationale for catchment areas in section 2.1.

and for admission to schools section 1.3 applies.

Generally, pupils will qualify for assistance if they are of compulsory school age, attend the LEA designated or nearest school and live over the statutory walking distance. The distance is defined as being 2 miles in the case of primary age children and 3 miles in the case of secondary school children.

Assistance may also be provided for pupils in certain circumstances on the grounds of safety, medical need, special need etc. (The definitive position is found on Page 14 of the Information for Parents Booklet.)

Some examples may be useful in illustrating how the transport policy works in practice :

Example One :

Child A (6 year-old) lives in Garnant and within the catchment of Ysgol y Bedol but the parent prefers that the child attends Ysgol Bro Banw in Ammanford. This school has not exceeded its Published Admission Number (PAN) for the year group and so the regulations state that the child must be admitted although outside the catchment area. Bro Banw school is further than 2 miles from the child's home at Garnant but since the child, by preference, attends a school which is neither the designated (i.e. the catchment) nor the nearest school, then transport is not provided.

Example Two :

Child B and Child C (11 year-olds) live in Llandeilo, next door to each other and on transfer to secondary school Child B prefers Bro Myrddin over Maesyryrfa, while Child C prefers Maesyryrfa. Neither school has exceeded its PAN. The distance from the children's homes to Maesyryrfa is less by 0.2 miles than that from the homes to Bro Myrddin. In that case transport is provided to Bro Myrddin under the designated school qualification for Child B and to Maesyryrfa for Child C under the nearest school qualification.

Example Three ;

School D is oversubscribed (i.e. has exceeded its PAN for the year) and Child D cannot therefore be admitted. She lives within the catchment but from those who sought admission her home is the furthest away from the school. The designated school is therefore not available as an option. The next nearest school is over three miles away and therefore transport is provided. (It should be recognised that the Council seeks to avoid this position wherever possible, by, for example adding to the capacity of a school.)

Example Four :

Child E lives within 500 yards of the school in Penygroes and has a statement of special educational need that includes a comment that because of a medical condition she is unable to walk that distance to school, and that she must also be accompanied on the journey. This diagnosis has been prepared by a medical practitioner. The statement of need is a statutory document and transport, together with a registered escort is provided.

2.6.2 MEP programme

Cefnbrynbrain and Ystradowen schools in Dinefwr have been recently engaged in a statutory notice period with regard to their future existence. Their closure has now been confirmed by WAG. Reference is made in the commentary on these individual schools (Appendix C) and both will now be incorporated into the Brynaman catchment.

Also, a number of other schools in the north and in the south-west of Dinefwr are currently in discussion which may lead to amalgamation or closure, either at a current site or a new site. It has been decided that no change be made to these catchments, both primary and secondary until such time as the future arrangements are clear. The particular areas around Caio and Llansawel together with Pontiets and Carway will need to be revisited at the appropriate time.

2.7 Collaboration

It is the Council in its role as Admissions Authority for Community and Voluntary Controlled schools that is required to address the sufficiency or otherwise of school places within its boundary.

All schools are thus required to understand the role of the Council in the way it arranges its catchments. They are also required to collaborate with the Council in the admission process; to admit according to the published criteria up to the Published Admission Number without let or hindrance, and provide such data as is necessary with immediate effect to the Authority. All queries with regard to out-of-catchment pupil admission, the application of the Published Admission Number, regulation as it applies to pre-school age children and Infant Class Sizes, together with any appeals, must be directed to the Admission Manager.

Bryan Stephens

07/07/10