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Cabinet progresses 21st Century Schools proposals for Hirwaun and Penderyn

At its meeting on January 24, Cabinet agreed to progress education proposals for Hirwaun and Penderyn, announced in September 2018 as part of a wider £23.9m investment for the Upper Cynon Valley.

They include a brand new £10.4m school building for Hirwaun Primary, and the dual-language Penderyn Primary being converted to a full Welsh Medium school. Cabinet amended initial proposals to allow English medium admissions to Penderyn Primary School until 2021 when it is proposed that the school will change category to a Welsh medium school.

The Council carried out a public consultation for these changes, which ran over 12 weeks from October 1, 2018, to December 31, 2018 – and Cabinet considered the feedback outlined in an Officer report in Thursday’s meeting.

The new school for Hirwaun will replace its current buildings, which do not provide modern educational facilities and have a backlog of maintenance of £1.9m – the highest of any primary school in Rhondda Cynon Taf.

Penderyn Primary has a much newer school in excellent condition. Its catchment area for Welsh Medium pupils is much larger than for English Medium pupils, encompassing Hirwaun and Rhigos.

In total, 58 written responses were received during the consultation and 60 residents, including pupils from Hirwaun Primary and Penderyn Primary, attended a consultation event to find out more details about the proposals. Views conveyed at a second meeting held by a Local Member, and feedback provided by the Children and Young People Scrutiny Committee, were all considered as part of the consultation process.

Councillor Joy Rosser, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member for Education and Lifelong Learning, said: “Cabinet has agreed to progress plans for a brand new £10.4m building for Hirwaun Primary to be delivered by 2021 – and this proposal was well received in the consultation, in order to replace the existing school buildings which are in a very poor condition.

“We’ve already seen 21st Century Schools investment across the County Borough providing the best learning settings for our pupils – introducing stimulating environments and new opportunities in their education. These proposals will extend these facilities to pupils in the Upper Cynon Valley.

“Members also agreed to the element of the wider proposals to convert Penderyn Primary into a Welsh Medium school only. This would increase the Welsh Medium capacity for the Penderyn, Rhigos and Hirwaun communities, and it is also important to note that Estyn determined there is the potential for a positive impact on Welsh Medium learners.

“It is anticipated there will be very few English Medium learners in Penderyn at the time of implementation – with only three applications for the English Medium nursery provision received for next year. English Medium pupils living in Penderyn would qualify for Home to School Transport to Hirwaun.

“One of the common themes conveyed in the consultation was the difficulty for parents with two or more children, if the English Medium applications to Penderyn Primary were stopped in August 2019 – which could have resulted in one child attending school in Penderyn and one in Hirwaun. We’ve taken on board these views, and agreed to extend the admission period up to 2021.

“These plans for the Upper Cynon Valley were announced four months ago alongside a new £3.3m investment in Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Aberdâr, and a £10.2m investment in Ysgol Gyfun Rhydywaun – to increase Welsh Medium capacity at both schools from 2022. This follows the brand new £7.2m Cwmaman Primary School, delivered by the Council in September 2018.”

As a result of Cabinet’s decision on Thursday, a consultation report will be published on January 30th, 2019, and the statutory notice for the changes in relation to both schools will be published on February 13th, 2019.