Expansion of Welsh medium school given final approval
Anthony Lewis, local democracy reporter
Councillors have given their final approval for a £12m expansion of a Welsh medium secondary school.
The plans for Ysgol Gyfun Rhydywaun in Penywaun in the Cynon Valley went before full council on Wednesday, May 26 to approve the borrowing to fund the project and will see an extra 187 Welsh medium pupil places created.
A report recommended a capital investment of £12.13m to increase the capacity and improve the educational facilities at the school through a new teaching block on the school site incorporating eight general classrooms, community rooms, new drama and music facilities, a sports hall, fitness suite and changing rooms.
This will include science labs and technology areas, new dining facilities, general improvements, plus the creation of a dedicated Social, Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties (SEBD) and well-being area within the school to support the delivery of the new curriculum for Wales.
It builds upon the £600,000 investment in a 3G pitch at the school in 2019 and is taking place alongside a £4.5m investment in expanding Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Aberdar and the £10.2m investment into the new school for Hirwaun Primary.
The project is set to be funded through the Welsh Government’s (WG) 21st Century Schools Band B grant which will cover 65% (£7.88m) and a council contribution through prudential borrowing.
The capital cost to the council of this will be £4.24m with the annual revenue cost of repaying this borrowing being £159,000 over 40 years and this will be met from savings from previous school reorganisations.
At a meeting of the council’s cabinet in September 2018, approval was given to develop and submit a 21st Century Schools Programme financial business case to the Welsh Government to increase the capacity of Ysgol Gyfun Rhydywaun to meet the demand for Welsh medium school places.
An update was reported to cabinet in February this year outlining that the proposal has been through all the relevant business case stages in Welsh Government and an award of funding was imminent and it has now been received.
Cabinet agreed that this report is presented to council to approve the borrowing for the council’s contribution and a planning application was approved by the planning committee back in February.
Councillor Andrew Morgan the leader of the council said it is an “excellent addition to the investment we have made in schools in recent years.”
Leader of the Plaid Cymru group Councillor Pauline Jarman said it is a “fantastic scheme” but asked what contribution Merthyr Tydfil would be making to the funding given that pupils from there also attend the school.
Barrie Davies, the council’s director of finance, said they have written to Merthyr Tydfil Council but that RCT receives revenue funding based on the number of pupils who attend their schools.