Council green lights £9m plan to move school and increase Welsh medium provision
Anthony Lewis, local democracy reporter
A near £9m plan to move a primary school in the Rhondda to a different site has been given the go ahead.
Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Llyn y Forwyn in Ferndale in the Rhondda Fach will be moved to a new building after Rhondda Cynon Taf Council cabinet members agreed to the recommendation in a report on Tuesday, September 21.
The cabinet report said that the aim of the proposal is to “increase capacity and improve the quality of the Welsh medium primary education provision available to learners in the Rhondda Fach area of Rhondda Cynon Taf.”
On January 28, 2021, approval was given by cabinet to begin a process to formally consult on the plan.
In the report considered at this meeting, it said that urgent investment is needed to replace YGG Llyn-y-Forwyn which is currently one of the poorest buildings in the education portfolio.
It also said the current school is not accessible and as such not compliant with the Equality Act 2010, and given the restrictions of the site there is little that can be done to remedy this.
It added that the opportunities for outdoor play are limited; there are no external green spaces available and all of the hard play areas are affected by the sloping topography.
The report said there is no on-site staff car parking available which means that staff have to park in the neighbouring streets and the home to school transport drop-off area is located in the street below.
At the time of the January meeting, the school had a maintenance backlog of more than £1.01m.
The Estyn inspection carried out in January 2019 judged the school’s current performance in all five inspection areas as ‘good’.
But in their report Estyn commented on the outdoor areas of the school in that they “have not been developed to the same standard, and use of them is very limited.”
The solution the council has come up with is project worth around £8.5m for a new Welsh medium primary school on a new site to improve and expand facilities, the January report said.
It would include “modern, flexible learning environments for all learners, a hall and dining area, and a multi-purpose learning resource area.
It would also include accessible internal and external facilities for wider community use, enhanced outdoor spaces to support the full range of curriculum activities, including an outdoor classroom and a ‘forest schools’ area and improved traffic management including on site pupil bus drop off and on site staff parking.
The catchment area of YGG Llyn-y-Forwyn would not be altered with the new site which the council has decided will be on the land on the north side of Highfield, Ferndale known locally as the former “Chubb Factory.”
Following the end of the consultation, cabinet agreed on June 17, 2021 to publish the required statutory notice.
This was published on June 25, 2021 which triggered the start of the objection period of 28 days with no objections or comments being submitted during this period.
Based on current estimates, nearly £9m is required to build the new school to ensure the pupils of YGG Llyn-y-Forwyn have a “high quality,
viable and sustainable 21st Century learning environment” the cabinet report said.
The council will submit business cases to the Welsh Government to secure the investment required to deliver this project and, if successful, a 65% capital contribution from Welsh Government will be made.
It is proposed that the council’s 35% share of the capital costs will be met through prudential borrowing.
Another recommendation is that the cabinet receives further reports as the project develops and progresses through the Welsh Government’s 21st Century Schools and Colleges approval processes.
Councillor Joy Rosser, cabinet member for education, said: “It’s another ambitious scheme which will transform facilities up to 21st Century standards.”
Councillor Maureen Webber, deputy leader of the council, said: “It’s pleasing to see this further investment going into our schools” and Councillor Andrew Morgan the leader of the council said it was “excellent to see” and well needed.