The new Cwmaman Primary School

Cabinet will consider new proposals to invest £23.9m to introduce more 21st Century Schools facilities in the Cynon Valley – to deliver a brand new primary school building and increase Welsh Medium provision at three schools.

An Officer report to Cabinet Members’ meeting on Thursday, September 20, sets out new proposals for the latest wave of multi-million pound joint investment by the Council through #RCTinvest and the Welsh Government’s 21st Century Schools and Education Programme. It follows the brand new £7.2m primary school for Cwmaman that opened in September 2018, and new schools for Aberdare, Abercynon, Cwmbach and Ynysboeth in recent years.

The new proposals, if agreed, would be delivered in 2022. They include:

  • A brand new £10.4m school building for Hirwaun Primary School
  • Penderyn Primary – which is currently a dual-language school – being converted to a full Welsh Medium school.
  • A £3.3m investment in Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Aberdâr, in Cwmdare, to increase its capacity and meet demand for Welsh Medium places.
  • A £10.2m investment to increase the capacity of Ysgol Gyfun Rhydywaun to meet the demand for Welsh Medium places.

Cabinet could agree for the Council to begin required statutory consultations in relation to the proposals for Hirwaun and Penderyn, and could approve the development of 21st Century Schools Programme business cases with the Welsh Government for the proposed investment at YGG Aberdâr and Ysgol Rhydywaun. The recommendation of the report is to approve the schemes.

The report proposes investment in Hirwaun Primary. Its two buildings do not currently provide modern educational facilities, and have a backlog of maintenance valued at £1.9m – the highest of any primary school in Rhondda Cynon Taf. The cost of major repairs, or remodelling/refurbishment, would be very high – and the most cost-effective solution is a new-build on the existing site. Once the new school is built, the existing buildings would be demolished and replaced with play areas and car parking.

Penderyn Primary consists of a much newer school (built in 2006) in excellent condition. The catchment area of the school’s Welsh Medium section is much larger than its English section – encompassing not only Penderyn but Hirwaun and Rhigos too. The number of Welsh Medium pupils has sharply risen, while its English Medium numbers have declined.

The proposal outlines that no new English Medium admissions would be accepted at Penderyn Primary after August 2019, and the catchment school for English Medium pupils would become Hirwaun Primary. It is expected that English Medium pupils from Penderyn would qualify for Home to School Transport to Hirwaun. It is also proposed the catchment of the new Welsh Medium Penderyn Primary would expand from September 2020, to include Trenant and Penywaun.

YGG Aberdâr moved to a new-build school in 2003, and pupil numbers have been steadily rising, with the school operating at almost full capacity over the last 10 years.

The £3.3m investment by the Council would help to alleviate some of these issues by removing a temporary double classroom, replacing it with a permanent building with four classrooms – to increase the school’s capacity by 60 places. The investment would also seek opportunities 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, if agreed, see a classroom extension block built for curriculum-specific teaching areas with a new sports hall. It would increase the school’s capacity to at least 1,200 places.

Councillor Joy Rosser, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member for Education and Lifelong Learning, said: “Cabinet Members will shortly consider new, significant proposals to invest £23.9m in education facilities for the Upper Cynon Valley. They include a 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.

"The proposals also focus on creating new Welsh Medium places in areas where demand is very high – at primary schools in Penderyn and Cwmdare, and at Ysgol Gyfun Rhydywaun, which is predicted to be oversubscribed by 2021.

"This huge investment, if agreed, would represent the latest significant funding for education in the Cynon Valley – after 21st Century facilities were delivered in the new Aberdare Community School, and in new Community Primary Schools for Abercynon, Cwmbach and Ynysboeth in recent years.

"The new £7.2m Cwmaman Primary School also opened its doors for the first time in September, with first-class facilities for pupils."

Posted on Thursday 13th September 2018

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