Merger plan approved for ‘enhanced’ village primary school
Nicholas Thomas – Local Democracy Reporter
A council has granted planning permission to allow two primary schools to combine to form a new ‘enhanced’ school for 275 pupils.
Caerphilly Council has granted planning permission for a two-storey extension to Llanfabon Infants School in Nelson, which will then become a fully-fledged primary school facility for children aged three to 11.
The plans also include a new childcare unit for a further 24 pupils.
The project means Key Stage 2 children (aged seven to 11) at Llancaeach Junior School, less than half a mile away, will move to new classrooms at the extended Llanfabon site.
In its case for the merger, Caerphilly County Borough Council argued each child’s “learning journey should be seamless throughout their time in school”.
A singular primary school would be in a “stronger position to plan for both continuity and progression in learning, delivering the curriculum in a continuous and coherent way”, the council said.
The council added the plan would “build upon the strengths of each separate infant and junior school to ensure that experiences are enhanced, enabling even higher standards of education to be provided”.
At public and stakeholder consultation, support for the merger plan outweighed opposition by a rate of ten to one.
One objection to the plans focused on a boundary between the school site and neighbouring properties, where trees on the school site had allegedly been “left to grow without any maintenance”.
That member of the public also called for better lighting on a footpath which straddles the school, and for the council to rethink an “unsightly” two-metre screen around the boundary.
If built, the extension will be to the west of the Llanfabon school, on what is currently a car park.
Nursery classrooms currently in outbuildings will be relocated into the main school building, which will be refurbished as part of the merger project.
The council said the new extension would be built using a “combination of traditional and modern materials, to create a vibrant and attractive facility for both pupils and the wider community”.
In a report to the council’s planning committee, officers noted the merger project would “provide a highly sustainable 21st-century school that will serve children from early years – including wrap-around on-site childcare through to Key Stage 2 – on a single school site”.
The scheme will “provide continuity and progression in learning in addition to providing an out of school hours community hub”, the officers added.
Inspection agency Estyn removed Llanfabon Infants from its list of schools requiring “significant improvement” in 2019, judging it had made “sufficient progress” to meet recommendations imposed two years earlier.
Llancaeach Junior School, meanwhile, won praise from Estyn as “a caring environment where pupils feel valued, safe and happy”, during a separate inspection, also in 2019.
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