Agenda item

School Admission Arrangements 2022-2023

(To follow)


To carry out pre-decision scrutiny of the proposals to set the School Admission Arrangements for 2022 – 2023.


The Chairperson advised that this item enabled Members to carry out pre-decision scrutiny of the School Admission arrangements prior to its consideration by Cabinet on 18th March 2021.


The Chairperson welcomed Councillor Sarah Merry (Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Education, Employment and Skills); Melanie Godfrey (Director of Education and Lifelong Learning); Michelle Dudridge-Friedl (Operational Manager, Planning & Provision); and Richard Portas (Programme Director, Schools Organisation Programme) to the meeting.


The Chairperson invited questions and comments from Members, summarised as follows:



Members discussed the secondary school admission data which had been published during the course of the last week and the likely data for primary school admissions.  Concerns were raised in relation to the over-subscription levels; the length of residency and the risk of indirect discrimination bearing in mind the additional homes being built in various areas; and the distance children have to travel to other schools which seems to undermine the Active Travel policy. It was noted that a substantial overview of the admissions policy and over subscription criteria had been undertaken in anticipation of the extra pressure on secondary school places by WIZERD.  Length of residence, catchment schools; and issues of poverty, for example children who received free school meals (FSM) were all considered.  It was felt that the length of residence could discriminate against particular groups of people, in particular those that are more mobile.  One of the duties of the Authority is to remove or minimise suffering by persons who have rare or protected characteristics; examples of which would be gypsy traveller children; asylum seekers; and refugees. 


It is anticipated that secondary numbers will continue to rise for a number of years, but primary numbers are now dropping significantly but there will always be specific areas which are highly sought after from within catchment or outside. It is expected that the overall population will reduce over the coming years.


Members were advised that the supply of places is constantly monitored.  The amount of the drop in primary school places was not expected or predicted and the effect that the pandemic will have on those figures is very much an unknown.  Catchment changes will be considered after Band B.



A Member queried why, based on the oversubscription figures, Cardiff High did not figure more predominantly in the Band B school building programme, particularly bearing in mind children’s welfare and active travel when children are travelling greater distances.  The Cabinet Member does not agree that Cardiff High is the main issue when discussing the over subscription criteria; it is not about groups of children, it relates to every child across the city. In relation to schools such as Fitzalan, Willows and Cantonian they were all category D condition schools.  In terms of Cathays there are already children in temporary buildings because of school numbers. 



Members requested information in relation to the how the predictions of figures for the future are worked out and referred to the oversubscription at Eastern High School, the new estate being planned for the Llanrumney site in 2024 and the development now on the old Rumney High School site.   Members were advised that in terms of projections officers consider the Pupil Level Annual Census which provides details of children on roll in Cardiff.  The data for that is submitted in January and usually verified in the June.  There is also the information provide on the numbers on roll which does fluctuate.  They allow for consideration of the number of children, the types of school and how historically choices and preferences have been made. There is a 3 year weighted average that gives you an idea of where children will go through into the secondary system.  When looking at those going into the primary system GP registrations data is also considered which give details of how many children have been born.  Take up 3 year weighted averages are also considered. 


In terms of new build sites the catchment area is considered together with the neighbouring location, the trends with regards to English/Welsh medium and faith, where additional places are likely to be needed and whether there are places available already.  When planning permission is applied for the applicant has to set out the make-up of the housing they expect to deliver; there is supplementary planning guidance which is aligned with the LDP; it is currently being reviewed but it will tell you how many pupils would need to be yielded from an estate and what size school  and number of places would be required to accommodate them.


It is a complex picture. The strategic response to the situation in Llanrumney, the decision was to invest in one school, Eastern High, which was larger than one of the schools but not as big as both schools it replaced.  It did achieve a balance when it was opened.  It has been successful, but there is places in that area. 



Members discussed school provision moving forward and expressed concern that a primary school had to request planning permission for demountables.  It is a school with a large over subscription number.  Members were advised that modulars are being considered as permanent accommodation, Ty Gwyn is an excellent example of this.  It is important to have flexibility across the school system.  Additional accommodation has been put into Cathays High School which is a good stepping stone towards their new build.  Officers added that they were not aware of any school that has had to put own planning permission in; it would have been picked up. 



Members sought confirmation that requirements in relation to active travel and safe routes are met before asking children to change schools or use different routes to school. 


RESOLVED – That the Chairperson writes to the Cabinet Member on behalf of the Committee expressing their comments and observations during the Way Forward.


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