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Investing in first-class education facilities across the County Borough

Cllr Bonetto has visited schools in Cwmdare, Taffs Well and Beddau

The Cabinet Member for Education and Inclusion Services has visited schools in Cwmdare, Taffs Well and Beddau – which will receive brand new facilities in the multi-million pound school investment ongoing in Rhondda Cynon Taf.

Councillor Jill Bonetto was recently appointed as a member of the Council’s Cabinet team – and paid a visit to Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg (YGG) Aberdâr, and Bryn Celynnog Comprehensive School on Tuesday, March 22. These schools will soon benefit as part of the wider £252m investment currently being progressed across the County Borough, in partnership with Welsh Government’s Sustainable Communities for Learning Programme.

YGG Aberdâr will benefit from £3.84m improvements to provide modern facilities and increase its Welsh Medium places by 48 (or 10%). It is being complemented by an £960,000 investment from Welsh Government’s Welsh Medium Capital Grant, to create a 30-place childcare facility at the school. Work being undertaken by appointed contractor Andrew Scott Ltd continues to progress well on site, towards delivery by September 2022.  

The proposals for Bryn Celynnog Comprehensive would see it benefit from a brand new sixth form building block, new sports facilities, and improved facilities for Key Stages 3 and 4 from 2023 – with more opportunities for wider community use. On Tuesday, Cllr Bonetto took the opportunity to visit the school and look at the exciting plans with headteacher Debra Baldock. The development then gained planning permission on Thursday, March 24.

Meanwhile, Cllr Bonetto also visited Ffynnon Taf Primary School, which will benefit from a four-classroom and hall extension, to complement the recent refurbishment and remodelling to accommodate a childcare provision and community hub on site. The project is being delivered via funding earmarked for Community Infrastructure Levy, and a separate Council contribution.

The total £3m investment is also unique, as the project will utilise Wales’ only natural thermal spring as a source of low-carbon heat for the heating systems of the new school block. Good progress continues to be made on site, with the project set to be delivered for the new academic year in September 2022.

Current ongoing investment for local schools

The sum of all ongoing projects being progressed by the Council, via Welsh Government’s Sustainable Communities for Learning Programme, is £252m.

Alongside the YGG Aberdâr project, work is continuing on site to construct a new teaching block at Ysgol Gyfun Rhydywaun in Penywaun – to increase pupil capacity and meet growing demand for Welsh medium education in the area. This £12.1m investment will be completed in 2022, and will remove the temporary accommodation while also delivering a new sports hall, additional classrooms along with additional community facilities.

In March 2022, the Council received planning permission for developments at Llanilltud Faerdref Primary, Pontyclun Primary and Penygawsi Primary. They will be delivered via the Mutual Investment Model – the revenue funding stream of Welsh Government’s Sustainable Communities for Learning Programme. Each school will receive a new building on its current site, while highway improvements nearby will be informed by Safer Routes in the Community assessments.

Across Greater Pontypridd, an investment of more than £60m is being progressed for delivery in 2024 – including brand new schools at the current Pontypridd High School and Hawthorn High School sites. In addition, a new Welsh Medium Primary School in Rhydyfelin is proposed, alongside investment in new sixth form facilities at Bryn Celynnog Comprehensive.

Finally, first announced in October 2021, the Council is progressing further Band B projects using additional £85m funding from Welsh Government. The proposals will deliver investment at Ysgol Llanhari, Ysgol Cwm Rhondda, YGG Llyn y Forwyn, Maesybryn Primary, Tonysguboriau Primary and Penrhys Primary – along with a new English Medium primary school for the community of Glyn-coch, and a new special school for the County Borough.

Councillor Jill Bonetto, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member for Education and Inclusion Services, said: “It was my pleasure to visit three of our schools in Rhondda Cynon Taf which will be benefitting from the next phase of our multi-million pound investment. This builds upon the many fantastic facilities delivered in recent years within the 21st Century Schools Programme – including first-class facilities for Tonyrefail, Ferndale, Tonypandy, Cwmaman, Treorchy, Porth, Pontyclun and Hirwaun.

“In visiting the work sites at YGG Aberdâr and Ffynnon Taf Primary, it was clear to see that fantastic progress has been made towards both projects’ delivery this summer – to benefit staff and pupils for the next academic year this September. The work in Cwmdare, and the ongoing scheme at Ysgol Rhydywaun in Penywaun, are aimed at creating additional Welsh Medium provision in an area where there is clear demand for it, conforming to one of the key outcomes of the Council’s updated Welsh in Education Strategic Plan.

“All of our new school investment projects are being designed with the aim of being Net Zero carbon in operation, as focus is rightly placed on environmentally-friendly buildings as a key area of our Climate Change commitments. The scheme at Ffynnon Taf Primary is particularly exciting in this regard, as it will use naturally-produced energy from the Taffs Well Thermal Spring to heat the new element of the school. This cannot be replicated anywhere else in Wales.

“I’m looking forward to seeing further progress made in delivering our Sustainable Communities for Learning Programme projects, which represent a £252m investment. It was a pleasure to visit Bryn Celynnog Comprehensive School on Tuesday, which is one of the schools that will benefit from future investment – thanks to the school for the very warm welcome it gave me. 

“I’m also very pleased that, within the recently-agreed Council Budget for 2022/23, our schools are once again fully-funded – with an additional £11.2m funding for next year, representing a 6.8% increase from the current year.”

Posted on 25/03/2022