Pupils enjoying brand new facilities at the start of the academic year

Written by on 14th October 2022

Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member for Education has visited staff and pupils at their schools in Penywaun and Taffs Well, who are enjoying multi-million pound new facilities delivered for the current school year.

Councillor Rhys Lewis was welcomed by Ffynnon Taf Primary School on Tuesday, October 11, followed by Ysgol Gyfun Rhydywaun on Wednesday, October 12. Staff and pupils at these schools, along with Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Aberdâr, have settled into their brand new facilities which opened for the first time at the start of the current academic year in September 2022.

Cllr Lewis was given a tour of the facilities and visited pupils enjoying the new learning environments, which will benefit young people and their communities for generations to come. A summary of each project is included below:

Ffynnon Taf Primary School, Taffs Well

The school has received a four-classroom extension for foundation phase pupils with new additional outdoor play areas. The fully-accessible building includes new toilets, cloakrooms and a large new hall to accommodate the whole school, which is available for wider community use. As a result of the new facilities being provided, the school’s temporary classrooms, which were in a poor condition, have been removed. In addition, a new pavement and safe walkway leading to the school reception area has been created, along with cycle storage. The total investment by the Council is more than £3m.

A unique element of the scheme is its connection to the Taffs Well Thermal Spring, the only naturally-occurring geothermal heated spring in Wales. The system pumps water from the thermal spring (at around 21°C) to a nearby heat exchanger, which converts it into energy for the new school block.

Ysgol Gyfun Rhydywaun, Penywaun

The school’s capacity has been significantly increased thanks to a £12.1m investment, delivered by the Council via Welsh Government’s Sustainable Communities for Learning Programme. The scheme has constructed a new eight-classroom school block which includes drama and music facilities. It has also delivered a new school reception, sports hall, fitness suite, dance studio and changing rooms, along with an additional parking area and cycle store.

Community use is a key part of the scheme, with community facilities included within the new block, ensuring segregation from pupils attending the school. The development was facilitated by the demolition of the former caretaker’s house and the school’s temporary classrooms, which were no longer needed.

Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Aberdâr, Cwmdare

A £3.69m investment has provided modern facilities and increased Welsh Medium places in partnership with Welsh Government’s Sustainable Learning for Communities Programme. The scheme includes a new extension made up of four classrooms and a ground floor breakout area, while the existing school hall was significantly expanded. The project also extended car park capacity, built a new hard surface play area and removed two temporary classrooms.

Separately, a £1.016m investment from Welsh Government’s Welsh Medium Capital Grant has created a new 29-place childcare facility located on the school site, within the lower ground floor area of the new extension block.

Councillor Rhys Lewis, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member for Education, Youth Participation and the Welsh Language, said:

“I’d like to thank the learners and staff at Ffynnon Taf Primary School and Ysgol Gyfun Rhydywaun for their very warm welcome during my school visits this week. It was fantastic to see the first-class, stimulating learning environments being enjoyed by everyone since they opened at the start of the school year.

“The three schemes represent a total investment of around £20m, with the Cwmdare and Penywaun projects part of the £252m Band B programme for schools across Rhondda Cynon Taf, via Welsh Government’s Sustainable Communities for Learning Programme.

“All of the Council’s new school projects are designed with our Climate Change goals and commitments in mind. The Ffynnon Taf Primary project is particularly interesting and innovative in this respect, with the nearby Taffs Well Spring being used to heat the new school block. This project cannot be replicated anywhere else in Wales as the thermal spring is one of a kind, and I’m very proud that the Council has been able to utilise it in this way.

“I’m also very pleased that the investment at Ysgol Gyfun Rhydywaun, as well as at Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Aberdâr, has provided an increased number of Welsh Medium primary and secondary places in the Cynon Valley, to meet projected future demand. This supports the outcomes outlined in the Council’s Welsh in Education Strategic Plan, and makes a further local contribution to Welsh Government’s ‘Cymraeg 2050’ goal of one million Welsh speakers.

“I really enjoyed visiting two of our local schools earlier this week, and it’s fantastic to see first-hand how these new facilities are making a difference every day. I wish all staff and learners the best for the remainder of the academic year, and I’m looking forward to seeing further progress with our other investment projects in the coming months, as we work towards bringing 21st Century school facilities to even more Rhondda Cynon Taf communities.”

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