Proposals to lower the age range at Barrowcliff Community Primary School

This consultation is discussing the proposal to lower the age range at Barrowcliff Community Primary School.

1.0 Purpose of the report

1.1 To report the outcome of informal consultation carried out by the Governors of Barrowcliff Community Primary School.

1.2 To seek approval for the publication of proposals and statutory notices to lower the age range of Barrowcliff Community Primary School.

1.3 To ask the Executive (or the Executive Member for Education and Skills if there are no objections during the representation period) to schedule taking a final decision on the proposal at their meeting on 23 November 2021.

2.0 Executive summary

2.1 The Governing Body of Barrowcliff CP School has asked the Local Authority to propose lowering of the age range of their school from 3-11 to 2-11 in order to offer education for 2 year old children. 

2.2 This report is supported by a number of appendices as listed below:

Appendix 1: Consultation document
Appendix 2: Consultation Responses 
Appendix 3: Statutory Proposal
Appendix 4: Draft Statutory Notice
Appendix 5: Equality Impact Assessment

3.0 Background

3.1 Eligible two-year-old children are entitled to up to 15 hours per week for 38 weeks per year of government-funded Early Years education and care from the term following their second birthday until the term following their third birthday. The government funded entitlement may be taken in a maintained school nursery and/or in an Ofsted registered private and voluntary sector provision. The funding may be split between more than one provider. It is parental choice as to which type of provision is the most appropriate for their child and which meets their individual circumstances.

4.0 The proposal

4.1 Barrowcliff School is proposing to provide places for two-year-old children as an extension of the current nursery class provision in the school, by the creation of an additional ‘Early Years’ class. The Early Years Class would have a qualified Early Years teacher and suitably qualified and experienced teaching assistant(s) who will provide a high-quality learning environment to support each child’s learning and development appropriate to their age and stage of development. It will be in line with the Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) with at least one member of staff for every four children who are aged two.

4.2 There will be high quality play-based provision for the two-year-old children in the new class which meet the requirements of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) including role play, sand, water, construction, access to books and reading, mark making and opportunities for outdoor learning. The room will be equipped with suitable furniture, equipment and resources which will support two-year-old children’s learning and development. There will be free flow between areas, including outside, offering children a choice of activities and allowing them to engage in learning which is relevant and appropriate to their stage of development. They will be supported by knowledgeable and appropriately trained adults who are in tune with each individual child’s needs. The Early Years class will be situated in a suite of rooms adjoining the school office and reception area and the outdoor spaces directly outside the rooms. Children will also have access to the existing Nursery outdoor area.

4.2 Barrowcliff School is proposing that the new ‘early years’ class will provide up to 12 places per morning or afternoon session for two year old children.

4.3 Priority for admission of nursery-aged children will be determined by the County Council’s Admissions Policy for Nurseries.  This is separate from admissions to the school, which are determined by the County Council’s policy for Community and Voluntary Controlled Schools. Attendance in Nursery does not provide priority for admission to the Reception year.

4.4 The School Leadership report that they have had many enquiries over the last few years from parents asking if they have places for 2-year-olds in the current Nursery. Although none of these parents responded to the consultation, since it was published, they have had many conversations with current parents, who have younger children, and they have expressed a keen interest to have their children attend our Nursery when they are 2 years old. They say they have been very happy with the provision the school offers for 3-year-olds, and they feel that their younger children would benefit from being in the school’s Nursery from an earlier age.

4.5 From an educational point of view, there has been a significant decline in the number of children reaching age-typical milestones in Barrowcliff’s Nursery baseline assessments. This has been across all curriculum areas, but especially within Communication & Language. The school leadership feel that having the children in Nursery from the age of two will enable them to narrow the attainment gap, as the majority of children who attend their Nursery from the age of 3 years make better than typical progress and this continues into Reception. They believe they will also be able to engage outside agency support sooner for those children with significant additional needs.

5.0 Issues to consider

5.1 The effect the proposals would have on existing providers must be considered. Local pre-school providers within a 2 mile radius have been consulted and given the opportunity to make their views known on the proposal. 

6.0 Consultation undertaken and analysis of responses

6.1 From Friday 14 May to Friday 18 June the Governing Body of Barrowcliff Community Primary School consulted the local community on their proposal. The consultation document, which is appended to this report (as Appendix 1), was sent out to parents, local stakeholders, and other Early Years providers.

6.2 6 responses to the consultation have been received (Appendix 2).

6.3 All 6 responses supported the proposal. These were made up of 4 responses from Staff, 1 from a Parish Council and 1 from the Headteacher of a neighbouring school.

6.4 Barrowcliff Governing Board met (virtually) on 21 June reviewed the consultation responses (Appendix 2) and confirmed that they wish to ask the LA to continue with the statutory proposal.

7.0 Financial implications

7.1 School revenue funding

The school is currently projecting a surplus of £4.8k in 2021/22. £33.9k is also projected for 2022/23, £17.5k in 2023/24. The Governing Body and the Headteacher have modelled the potential income and costs of running nursery-aged provision and feel that this is financially viable. 

7.2 Capital Implications

The school has worked with Local Authority Officers from the Early Years Team and Health and Safety Team to identify a suitable space within their existing buildings. This will be funded from their existing Devolved Capital budget.

7.3 Transport costs

There are no transport costs related to this proposal.

8.0 Legal implications

8.1 The School Organisation (Prescribed Alterations to Maintained Schools) (England) Regulations 2013 set out the manner in which prescribed alterations could be made to maintained schools. The statutory guidance ‘Making Prescribed Alterations to Maintained Schools’ was updated in October 2018. Careful attention has been paid to this guidance throughout the process.

9.0 Human rights implications

9.1 There are no Human Rights issues in relation to this decision.

10.0 Other implications

10.1 An Equality Impact Assessment has been undertaken in respect of this change and is attached at Appendix 5. The County Council’s Officers feel that this decision is in the best interests of children and families served by the school to ensure quality early years education provision is provided in the area.

11.0 Conclusion

11.1 The consultation process has revealed support for the proposal. The Governing Body considered the consultation responses on 21 June and voted in favour of proceeding to seek the approval of the Executive to publish statutory notices.

12.0 Next steps

12.1 It is proposed to publish proposals and statutory notices on 1 October 2021. The proposals would be published on the County Council’s website and the statutory notice would be published in a local newspaper and displayed at the main entrance to the school. This would provide four weeks for any further representations to be made to the Local Authority by 29 October.

12.2 The Executive agreed a model for decision making on school organisation proposals on 25 September 2007. If approval is given to publish statutory proposals and notices, it is proposed that a final decision is taken by the Executive on 23 November 2021 (or by the Executive Member for Education and Skills if there are no objections during the representation period).

12.3 The key dates are shown below:

Consultation 14 May – 18 June 2021
Governing Body consider consultation responses and vote to proceed 21 June 2021
County Council’s Executive decision to publish statutory notices 21 September 2021
Statutory notices published  1 October 2021
Representation period (4 weeks) 1 October – 29 October 2021

Final decision by County Council’s Executive

(or by the Executive Member for Education and Skills if there are no objections during the representation period)

23 November 2021
Implementation 1 January 2022

13.0 Recommendations

13.1 That proposals and statutory notices be published on 1 October to lower the school age range of Barrowcliff Community Primary School from 1 January 2022.

13.2 That the Executive schedule taking a final decision on these proposals on 23 November 2021.

Stuart Carlton
Corporate Director – Children and Young People’s Service
Report prepared by Matt George – Strategic Planning Officer