Newport special school set for £1 million expansion
By Emily Gill, local democracy reporter
A £1 million plan to expand an oversubscribed Newport special school has been put forward by the city council.
Next week, the council’s cabinet member for education, Cllr Deb Davies, will decide whether to press ahead with a consultation on plans to increase the capacity of of Ysgol Bryn Derw by 28 places.
Ysgol Bryn Derw is an English-medium special school in the Gaer area of Newport and accommodates pupils aged between three years and 19 years who have a diagnosis of autistic spectrum disorder and associated learning difficulties.
The school currently accommodates 68 pupils but as of October 2021, there were 71 pupils registered at the school.
A report on the proposal says there is currently a waiting list for this kind of provision in Newport.
To keep pupils with additional learning needs within the city, the council created an additional resource base at Rogerstone Primary School in September last year, but this is also now at full capacity.
A consultation on the plans would allow families of current and prospective pupils to have their say.
If given the go-ahead then the Kimberley Nursery School building would benefit from a £1 million refurbishment to accommodate the extra pupils.
The building will be vacant from July after approval was given to move and merge the nursery to a single site at Fairoak Nursery School from September.
A report on the plans says: “Refurbishing this site would support the development of additional facilities for Ysgol Bryn Derw, through the creation of a dedicated satellite base, without any detrimental impact on provision at the school, and indeed at any other school within the city.
“This proposal will benefit pupils across the whole of Newport as additional facilities will be provided to support children who have specialist needs in an appropriate and secure environment.”
Funding for the project will come from a Welsh Government capital maintenance grant.
If given the green light, then the building could be ready by April 2022.
The school originally opened in September 2017 for 48 pupils and has been expanded to accommodate 68 pupils following a refurbishment of the on-site annex building.
The current plans would see the school able to cater for 96 pupils.
Currently, a placement at the school costs around £19,500 per pupil a year, but this is vastly cheaper than placing students out of the county at a cost of around £46,500 per pupil a year.
Local ward member, Cllr Paul Cockeram, said: “I am totally in support of the proposal, especially having advocated for these facilities for our most vulnerable children.
“The parents of these children will also I’m sure be so please of this proposal and the facilities it offers.”
Next week, Cllr Davies will decide whether to proceed with a former consultation in the spring term this year.
The consultation would last for 42 days, after which a decision will be made on whether to publish a statutory notice and undertake a second consultation.