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Statement to Directors of Education

Statement to Directors of Education

You will have received confirmation in December that the Strategic Outline Programme (SOP) submitted by your authority had been successfully received.

The Programme Board is keen for you to be kept aware of the next stages in this process, and of its commitment to the Programme.

The position is as follows:

  • SOPs are currently being evaluated by officials of DCELLS together with other WAG colleagues. They are organised into teams relating to specific questions covered by the SOP template, and team leaders have been tasked with arriving at an agreed team score or recommendation regarding threshold passes where appropriate. A training day was run by the Programme Team for officials who will be involved in the evaluation process, to ensure that a consistent and thorough approach is undertaken. Evaluation scoring is to be completed by March 18th
  • at the end of March a Moderation Panel will meet with all the team leaders to review the scoring and consider any issues arising from scrutiny of the approach taken. This panel will include individuals not hitherto involved in the scoring, including a senior DCELLS official, DCELLS regional offices, and members of the Programme Team. If necessary this Panel could make adjustment to final scores. The outcome of this stage will be a prioritised list of authorities according to SOP evaluation score
  • there will then be a period through April during which this listing will be analysed in terms of authority projects proposed for Band A investment. DCELLS has a single capital budget ensuring that transformation projects for post 16 provision and Local Authority Schools projects are considered consistently and in combination (as well as projects for Higher Education).  The likely capital budget available for the next spending review period will be applied, to determine a suitable mix of affordable projects across Wales that could be recommended to the Minister.  At the same time, the longer-term matrix of proposed investment will be mapped out, using interim projections as to availability of capital in future spending review periods.  This matrix will necessarily require review once spending decisions for future years are taken
  • recommendations on both Band A funding and the longer-term matrix will then be prepared to come to the Programme Board for review, and then subsequent decision by the DCELLS Capital Panel and the Minister. This final stage of the process will not take place until May/June, with a Ministerial announcement intended in June/July. Feedback on the outcome of the evaluation process will be given at that time. There will be no such feedback until the whole process described above has been completed
  • authorities approved for Band A funding will be requested at that time to prepare outline business cases for their projects, and will be offered support from the Programme team to configure their projects to meet the expectations of the 21st Century Schools Standard. Detailed guidance on this will be available from Spring 2011
  • the Programme Board remains fully committed to the delivery of the 21st Century Schools programme both to the concept of the long term pipeline of projects and the broader benefits of agreed standards and collaborative support.  Most authorities have projects already approved under the transitional tranches (1,2 & 3) of SBIG funding, and these will be progressing, over the period 2011-13 following discussions with local authorities. The Programme is an aspirational one. The proposals for Band A activity set out by authorities in the SOPs is significant. The principles of an all-Wales, strategic approach to school investment remain powerful, and it is our intention that as economic circumstances permit the scale of funding will match those intended by the long-term matrix.