Council has its own agenda not what the public want Pontypridd schools shake-up backed despite protests
A £37m shake-up of schools in the south Wales valleys has been backed by council bosses despite opposition.
The latest changes in Rhondda Cynon Taf will see six schools and three sixth forms close in the Pontypridd area.
Two new schools for pupils aged three to 16 will be built, a new Welsh medium primary and two sixth form centres.
Council leaders said it would improve the quality of education but protesting parents claimed pupils faced longer journeys to school.
Joy Rosser, the cabinet member for education, said: "We want to provide quality learning experiences for pupils with access to 21st Century resources.
"We can't remain static in an evolving world, change is inevitable."
Robert Bevan, cabinet member for enterprise development, added that similar earlier changes in the Rhondda valley were proving to be a success despite similar initial objections.
Pontypridd High School
Cilfynydd Primary School
Hawthorn Primary School
Hawthorn High School
Heol-y-Celyn Primary School
Pont Sion Norton Welsh-medium primary school
Hawthorn High School sixth form
Pontypridd High School sixth form
Cardinal Newman RC Comprehensive sixth form
Pontypridd for three to 16-year-olds
Hawthorn for three to 16-year-olds
Welsh-medium primary on the site of Heol-y-Celyn
Sixth form centre at Bryncelynnog Comprehensive, Beddau
Sixth form centre at Coleg y Cymoedd, Nantgarw
However, many parents protesting outside the meeting were concerned about their children having to travel further to school.
Lowri Chinnock-Davies said the closure of Pont Sion Norton Welsh-medium primary school would mean her children "spending more than an hour on the bus" travelling to and from a new school two miles away.
Cabinet has agreed proposals to invest £37.4m in new school facilities across the Pontypridd area by 2022 – including the creation of two new 3-16 schools, a new state-of-the-art Welsh medium primary school, and a new sixth form Centre of Excellence.
An Officer report presented to the Cabinet today (Thursday, March 21) provided feedback on an extensive consultation process. At this meeting Cabinet agreed to issue statutory notices to progress proposals, which will would deliver, by 2022:
A new ‘all-through’ 3-16 school in Pontypridd, investing £4.7m in new facilities at the current Pontypridd High School site.
A new ‘all-through’ 3-16 school in Hawthorn, investing £12m in new facilities at the current Hawthorn High and Hawthorn Primary sites.
A new £10.7m school to improve and increase Welsh medium primary provision.
Post-16 Centres of Excellence at Bryncelynnog Comprehensive in Beddau and Coleg y Cymoedd in Nantgarw – investing £10m in the new sixth form provision at Bryncelynnog.
Cabinet agreed that it would not take forward proposed changes to the catchment of Bryncelynnog Comprehensive, which were originally proposed.
Commenting directly following the meeting of Cabinet, County Borough Councillor Joy Rosser, Cabinet Member for Education & Lifelong Learning said: “This proposal will deliver a £34m investment in modern 21st Century educational facilities for the greater Pontypridd area. The current education arrangements have not changed for a generation, and these proposals seek to deliver the best possible educational opportunities for young people.
“These proposals seek to resolve a number of significant challenges which exist within the current post-16 setup – including very small classes, under-sized sixth forms which financially impact on education at Key Stage 3 and 4, and limited subject choices for students. These proposals will deliver a choice for young people, providing the opportunity for post-16 students to progress through new sixth-form centres of excellence, accessing a wide range of educational opportunities which the current arrangement can simply not provide.
"Cabinet also agreed to deliver a £10.7m investment to increase Welsh Medium primary provision in Pontypridd, building in a brand new school for the area currently served by YGG Pont Sion Norton and Heol Y Celyn Primary School, increasing the number of Welsh medium places available in the area.
“As a Council, we want to ensure that our young people have access to the very best learning opportunities within modern state-of-the-art facilities. We have demonstrated what we can achieve and deliver for young people across Rhondda Cynon Taf through our 21st Century Schools Investment Programme, and the proposals to create new 3-16 schools at Pontypridd High and Hawthorn School seek to deliver the same modern facilities for Pontypridd.”