Cabinet have approved proposals to commence the consultation process to invest £23.9m to introduce more 21st Century Schools facilities in the Cynon Valley.

The decision to progress to the consultation phase, taken on Thursday 20th September, could see £10.4m invested to create a brand new facility for Hirwaun Primary School, a £3.3m investment in YGG Aberdar to increase capacity and meet demand for Welsh Medium places, and a £10.2m investment in YG Rhydywaun to increase the capacity of the school to meet the demand for Welsh medium places. 

Penderyn Primary will also be converted from dual-language to a fully Welsh medium school, with the English Medium element transferring to Hirwaun Primary.

This latest joint investment from the Council and the Welsh Government in education facilities in the Cynon Valley builds on the significant improvements brought by #RCTInvest and the 21st Century Schools and Education programme, which has already delivered new schools for Aberdare, Abercynon, Cwmbach and Ynysboeth.

Following Cabinet’s approval, the Council will now begin the statutory consultation process for Hirwaun and Penderyn and will also submit the relevant business cases to the Welsh Government for the investment in YGG Aberdar and YG Rhydywaun.

Councillor Joy Rosser, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member for Education and Lifelong Learning, said: “Cabinet Members have now approved significant proposals that will see £23.9m invested in education facilities in the Upper Cynon Valley area.  This will include a brand new 21st Century Schools primary school for Hirwaun to replace its current building – which has the biggest maintenance backlog of any primary school across Rhondda Cynon Taf.

“This significant investment represents the latest round of substantial funding for education facilities in the Cynon Valley, building on the new 21st Century facilities that have already been delivered at Aberdare Community School, and in Community Primary Schools in Abercynon, Cwmbach, Ynysboeth and Cwmaman, which opened its doors to pupils in September.

These proposals also focus on stimulating the growing demand for Welsh Medium places in Penderyn, Cwmdare, and at Ysgol Gyfun Rhydywaun, which is predicted to be oversubscribed by 2021.”

Hirwaun Primary currently has the highest backlog of maintenance of any primary school in the County Borough (£1.9m) and Cabinet’s decision will see a modern and state-of-the-art facility created for pupils, that will not only provide a modern educational facility for local children but will also enable the Council to take the most cost-effective course of action for improving the school. 

Penderyn Primary School, meanwhile, is in excellent condition having been built in 2006.  The number of Welsh Medium pupils has risen sharply in recent years, which has coincided with a decline in English Medium demand.  Cabinet’s agreement means that no new English Medium admissions will be accepted at Penderyn Primary after August 2019, with the English Medium element catchment transferring to Hirwaun Primary, where pupils from Penderyn would qualify for Home to School Transport.

Similarly, demand for Welsh Medium places at YGG Aberdar has been rising to the point that the school has been operating at almost full capacity over the last 10 years.  The £3.3m investment would therefore help to stimulate this demand by replacing a temporary double classroom with a permanent building with four classrooms - meaning the school’s capacity will increase by 60 places, whilst also providing an opportunity to improve the current parking provision at the school.

Ysgol Gyfun Rhydywaun, which also serves pupils resident in Merthyr Tydfil, has also seen a steady rise of pupils in recent years, and the forecast for the school is that it is projected to be oversubscribed by 2021.

Therefore, Ysgol Gyfun Rhydywaun has been put forward for 21st Century Schools funding. The £10.2m investment would see a classroom extension block built for curriculum-specific teaching areas with a new sports hall. It would also increase the school’s capacity to at least 1,200 places.

Posted on Monday 1st October 2018

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