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Rhondda Cynon Taf: New schools discussion

Rhondda Cynon Taf: New schools discussion

Image: Google

Councillors have welcomed plans to spend £85m on new schools and new school buildings in areas across Rhondda Cynon Taf.

The council recently announced its latest 21st Century Schools plans in a report that was discussed and approved by cabinet on Monday, October 4.

The proposed projects include modernising and replacing the majority of the existing buildings at Ysgol Llanhari, creating a new 3-19 all through school by on the existing Ysgol Cwm Rhondda site or building a brand new
school on an alternative site and a new English medium primary provision for Glyncoch to replace the two existing schools subject to statutory consultation and decision making processes.

They also include a new special school to cater for the increased demand for the council’s special school provision with a report on this proposal to be
put before cabinet shortly and new 21st century schools for Penrhys Primary, Maesybryn Primary in Llantwit Fardre and Tonysguboriau Primary in Talbot Green.

Cabinet will consider a separate report which provides more detail on the
proposal to build a new special school within RCT.

The aim is to help relieve pressures across existing special schools including projected further rises in pupil numbers along with the limitations of current school sites.

It comes after the council carried out a review of RCT’s special schools and the report said that pupil numbers have risen to 600 in September 2021 which is up from 577 last year and 483 in 2013/14 with the expectation being that pupil numbers will continue to grow along with a future increase in the complexities of the learners’ needs.

The report concludes that the only feasible alternative to meet pressures is to
build a new special school – increasing the number in Rhondda Cynon Taf
from four to five.

The plan is for it to be a highly-specialist 21st Century special school
environment with access to therapeutic facilities, equipment and resources and the council is in the final stages of looking at several potential sites for it..

In 2017, approval was given to submit a Strategic Outline Plan (SOP) to the Welsh Government to secure funding through Band B of the 21st Century Schools and Colleges Programme.

The SOP outlined the council’s ambitions to continue to invest in education throughout Rhondda Cynon Taf, and an approval in principle was
secured from the Welsh Government totalling £167 million.

This investment was to be split between both capital and MIM (Mutual Investment Model) funded projects.

Now the SOP has been revised with the new programme totalling £252 million allowing a further £85 million to be invested in the schools of Rhondda Cynon Taf.

Since 2017, the council has been working on projects at Hirwaun Primary School which has been completed, Ysgol Gynradd Gyrmaeg Aberdar and Ysgol Gyfun Rhydywaun with works on site progressing well for these two projects according to the council.

Planning consultation has started for a new Welsh medium
school in Rhydyfelin and detailed design is nearing completion for three new primary schools for Pontyclun Primary, Penygawsi Primary and
Llanilltud Faerdref Primary.

The council has also been working on the creation of two all-through schools in Pontypridd and Hawthorn and the new sixth form teaching block and significant improvements to Bryncelynnog Comprehensive School are at the design stage.

With new legislation coming in since 2017, the cabinet report said the council  has committed to invest more in Welsh medium education, to ensure that improvements to its special school provision continue, to deliver more improved 21st Century classroom environments, and to create more community facilities on school sites.

Councillor Joy Rosser, cabinet member for education, said: “It’s an exciting opportunity for more learners to benefit from state of the art facilities.”

She said it’s about creating more capacity and not about the closure of any primary facilities and that the building of a new special school will respond to the pressures on current schools.

Councillor Robert Bevan said it’s great news for schools and pupils in RCT and that a new school for Penrhys is desperately needed.

Councillor Gareth Caple described it as an “unprecedented” and “eye watering” package of investment saying he was delighted to see the investment in Ysgol Gyfun Cwm Rhondda.

Councillor Maureen Webber, deputy leader of the council, said it is pleasing to see further investment into the schools programme.

Words: Anthony Lewis, Local Democracy Reporter


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