Agenda item

Education Modelling - Frome - next steps

To consider PowerPoint presentation.


The item will be led by the Council’s s Service Director, Education, Partnerships and Skills, Amelia Walker and Head of Education Places, Phil Curd.


Note – the Chair will allow 30 minutes for this agenda item.


The Committee received a presentation which provided an update on the on-going work and discussions about education structures in the Frome area.


The Committee welcomed and noted the update.


The Committee received a presentation from the Council’s Service Director, Education Partnerships and Skills, Amelia Walker and the Head of Education Places, Phil Curd. They provided an update on the on-going work and discussions about education structures in the Frome area.


Mr Curd explained the background to the discussions and the face-to-face meetings which have taken place - in January 2023, the Council began a discussion about education structures with schools in the Frome area, which is a complex education area. It opened with a survey of school leaders to understand the impact of the current structures and what changes they might make and what benefits any changes would bring. In March 2023, a report was sent to school leaders outlining the feedback provided through the survey. This was then followed by a meeting at Selwood Academy which all 18 of Frome’s schools attended along with representatives from the Diocese of Bath & Wells and the Regional Director’s Office. At this meeting, schools asked to explore some options that would allow Frome to become a 2-tier education area and to meet individually with officers on their school sites.


Mr Curd then explained that by May 2023, officers had prepared a number of 2-tier models and visited each of the 18 schools to discuss the modelling and other educational issues in Frome. At the end of May 2023, another meeting was held at Selwood Academy to discuss the modelling and other areas of interest discussed during the visits to school sites.


He explained that while there was not a general consensus to adopt a 2-tier model in Frome, there was an appetite to progress discussions further, over an extended period of time, introduce other elements and invite other stakeholders to engage in the process.  At regular intervals, the 8 councillors representing the Frome were given updates on discussions and the likely direction of future work. A community statement was issued on 21 June. Officers began preparations for the extended piece of work. A further survey was sent to school leaders asking them to confirm what subject areas they would like discussions to cover and which other stakeholders they would like to invite to participate.


A Steering Group will begin meeting in the autumn. These will be in-person meetings held at a venue in Frome. Subject areas are likely to include:

·         Education Structures and Partnerships

·         Post-16 Provision

·         Early Years

·         SEND and Vulnerable Learners

Frome Town Council is very keen to be involved in this work and has provisionally offered to host the Steering Group’s meetings.


The Committee asked a number of questions and made a number of comments which were responded to at the meeting, as follows:

·         Have governors and families been involved in the conversations – the multi academy trusts and many chairs of governors have all been involved in initial discussions; whilst have not engaged with wider community at this point, if get to the point where there is a proposal, before any statutory process happens will informally consult with the community, to sense check ‘where we are and where we are going’ and it will be a collaborative process (‘gradually widening circles’). Not clear at the moment any change is necessary.

·         If there are any plans to look at the Minehead area – would only participate in a conversation if there was an invitation to do so / approach from education leaders.

·         Question about the problem trying to solve -  in Frome it was by invitation and there are many views, drivers behind it and its  slow conversation, so no solution is being imposed; the Frome area has range of issues, structures and partnerships. Are looking at school place planning generally in Frome area as well.

·         Are encouraged by discussions and have asked that the Frome LCN receives a presentation on this as well


In conclusion the Chair thanked Mr Curd and Ms Walker for the presentation and invited them to come back to Committee to a future meeting if need to do so.  The Committee welcomed and noted the update.


Supporting documents: