21st Century Schools Update
Written by Gavin on 15th July 2021
Rhondda Cynon Taf Council could agree the submission of a business case to Welsh Government to secure new 21st Century Schools funding – to provide brand new buildings for primary schools in Llantwit Fardre, Llantrisant and Pontyclun by 2024.
A report to the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, July 20, provides an update on the Council’s funding bid through the Mutual Investment Model (MIM), which is the revenue funding route for Welsh Government’s Band B 21st Century Schools and Colleges Programme. During September 2020, Cabinet agreed to begin the formal approval process for this project in the south of the County Borough.
This includes replacing all existing accommodation with brand new school buildings at Llanilltud Faerdref Primary, Penygawsi Primary and Pontyclun Primary. The schools are within areas of rapid housing development and each require investment to be fully-accessible and to reach a 21st Century standard. It is hoped that the schools can be designed to meet all requirements in relation to Net Zero Carbon targets. Feasibility works have been carried out at each school site, including ground investigations and ecological surveys.
Subject to a successful funding application, an indicative timescale for the progression of all three schools is to seek planning approval by December 2021 and, if successful, the anticipated construction period for each school is expected to run from summer 2022 to early 2024.
On Tuesday, Cabinet could approve the submission of an Outline Business Case to Welsh Government for its consideration by August 2021. Members could also agree for the MIM process to be progressed to Stage 2, where WEPCo (Welsh Government’s private sector delivery partner) carries out a tender process for the three schools.
Stage 2 will also develop the design of each school. Headteachers have been involved in the initial design work, and as this progresses there will be full engagement with schools, governing bodies and Elected Members – as well as consultation with the wider community as part of each planning process.
Councillor Joy Rosser, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member for Education and Inclusion Services, said: “Cabinet Members will consider a report which provides an update on the Council’s Mutual Investment Model pathfinder project, bidding for an 81% contribution from Welsh Government’s 21st Century Schools and Colleges Programme for three exciting primary school investments in Llantwit Fardre, Llantrisant and Pontyclun, by 2024.
“We have seen how 21st Century Schools facilities have transformed the experiences and opportunities of young people in their education – and the Council has an excellent track record of delivering such schemes. Hirwaun Primary School became the latest to benefit, with brand new £10.2m facilities now fully-delivered following the completion of external works in May 2021.
“The Council has also secured planning permission for future projects at Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Aberdâr in Cwmdare and Ysgol Gyfun Rhydywaun in Penywaun – with the construction of both projects on course to begin shortly. A £3m investment is also planned for Ffynnon Taf Primary School in Taff’s Well, while four exciting projects across Greater Pontypridd are also being progressed, to deliver first-class facilities in an estimated £56m investment.
“The proposed projects for Llanilltud Faerdref Primary, Penygawsi Primary and Pontyclun Primary would remove all accommodation that each school is currently using, replacing them with attractive learning environments which staff and pupils deserve. There will also be opportunities for community use of the new facilities. Cabinet could progress the schemes to the next stage, which would further develop their design – and Members could also approve the submission of an Outline Business Case to Welsh Government.”