£416m education investment for council’s schools
Richard Youle Local Democracy Reporter
A secondary school is set to move to a new site and Welsh language provision is set to increase as part of far-reaching plans to upgrade and modernise one county’s school footprint.
The proposals would involve Bishop Vaughan Catholic School, Morriston, being rebuilt at the former Daniel James Community School site just under a mile away in Mynyddbach.
More Welsh language education places are another priority for the nine-year investment programme which cabinet members are expected to approve next week and submit to the Welsh Government for consideration.
New or improved Welsh language primary provision has been identified for four broad locations – Gorseinon and Penllergaer; Sketty, Dunvant and Killay; Townhill, Mayhill, Waun Wen and Plasmarl; and St Thomas and Port Tennant.
If these materialise, demand for Welsh language education at secondary level would increase in the years ahead. Nearly 250 new places will be created with an expansion of Ysgol Bryn Tawe, Penlan.
The wide-ranging education programme has an indicative cost of £416 million, with the Welsh Government providing £304 million and the council £112 million, spread over nine years. The are no current plans to close any schools.
A report going before cabinet said discussions with Bishop Vaughan Catholic School and diocese of Menevia representatives had been extensive. “We have now reached a position that a new build for Bishop Vaughan Catholic School on the former Daniel James site is the preferred way forward, subject to an approved business case,” it said.
Cllr Robert Smith, cabinet member for education and learning, said: “We want our young people to learn in modern and welcoming environments by continuing to upgrade our school buildings in the largest ever school investment programme Swansea has seen.”
Investment in the scheme, called the Sustainable Communities for Learning Programme, is to be prioritised for schools with the greatest condition and suitability needs. These could include Clydach, Dunvant, Blaenymaes, Portmead, Byrynhyfyd and St Joseph’s Cathedral Catholic primary schools, as well as YGG Bryn y Mor. In the meantime the council said it would continue to reduce the backlog of repairs at other schools.
Gowerton and Olchfa secondary schools have already been identified for investment and the council said there was the potential for new projects at Bishop Gore, Pontarddulais and Penyrheol in the future. All proposals would be dependent on the level of funding available from Welsh Government and be subject to individual business cases as well as further cabinet reports and, if necessary, consultation.
The council has built seven new schools and carried out major upgrades at seven others in the last decade or so, with the Welsh Government paying the majority of the costs. A further three significant projects are in various stages of development, including a £43 million special school formed by amalgamating Ysgol Pen-y-Bryn and Ysgol Crug Glas. It’s expected to open in 2028.
New primary schools are also planned at four big new housing estates coming to Garden Village, Penllergaer, Pontarddulais and south-west of Llangyfelach. Schools normally get built in situations like this when a certain number of houses have been built at a site as part of a planning agreement between the council and developer, although the Garden Village primary is part of an existing council-Welsh Government school programme.
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