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Ysgol Llyn-y-Forwyn investment proposals could be progressed

 

Cabinet could agree to progress proposals for a new £8.5m school for Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Llyn-y-Forwyn – which would deliver 21stCentury facilities and improve the quality of Welsh Medium primary education in Ferndale. 

Posted on Tuesday 26th January 2021

At their meeting on Thursday, January 28,Cabinet will consider a report which outlines proposals to deliver the new school building by 2024, utilising a new location within Ferndale that would not alter the current catchment area of YGG Llyn-y-Forwyn. Members could agree to give formal approval for the Council to consult on the proposals, taking place from March 2021.

The project would be delivered through the Council’s School Modernisation Programme. Currently, YGG Llyn-y-Forwyn has two Victorian buildings, for which a site condition survey in 2019 indicated a grading of ‘D’ for condition and ‘C’ for suitability (on a scale where ‘A’ is the highest-performing and ‘D’ is the lowest). It currently has a backlog of maintenance in excess of £1m.

While an Estyn inspection in January 2019 judged the school’s performance as ‘good’ in all five inspection areas, the report commented on the standard of the outdoor areas and limited usage. The current site is not accessible, and little can be done to improve this at the school’s existing location. The external sloping play areas make outdoor learning a challenge, while there are no external green spaces available. There is also no on-site staff car parking and school transport must use the residential areas below the school.

To address these issues, the £8.5m investment is proposed for a new school site – to expand facilities and create extra capacity. It would include modern and flexible learning environments, accessible internal and external facilities for community use, enhanced outdoor spaces to support the full range of curriculum activities, a staff car park and a drop-off point for home to school transport.

The Council is proposing to build the new school on land north of Highland in Ferndale, known as the former ‘Chubb Factory’. Following appraisals of 11 potential sites it was chosen as the preferred option due to several factors – that it is an adequate size, has satisfactory access which can be improved, is close to the current school and presents a viable development opportunity.

Councillor Joy Rosser, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member for Education and Inclusion Services, said: “Cabinet will consider a report proposing a significant future investment for YGG Llyn-y-Forwyn in Ferndale, which is a school that is performing very well and received a positive report from Estyn in its last inspection. However, its current school site is limited in terms of a number of factors – from accessibility to parking, green spaces and outdoor learning opportunities. Its current buildings require £1m in urgent maintenance, and under the proposals, these would be replaced by brand new facilities which pupils and staff deserve.

“The proposal is to provide new facilities fit for the 21st Century at the former ‘Chubb Factory’ site. The location is suitable for development, and with 65% of pupils currently using school transport it would be more easily manageable for the school and community each morning and afternoon. The Council would also review the local safe routes to school, and this could lead to future investment in walkways, road crossings and traffic calming measures for the community.

“The project would be the latest to deliver brand new school facilities, with the Council having an excellent track record via 21st Century Schools and School Modernisation programmes. Hirwaun Primary became the latest to benefit in November through a new £10.2m building – while further projects are planned at YGG Aberdare, Ysgol Rhydywaun and across the Greater Pontypridd area.

“A separate report to Cabinet on Thursday outlines how the Council is making good progress towards its Welsh in Education Strategic Plan, to improve and expand Welsh Medium education provision in Rhondda Cynon Taf. The Council is committed to contributing locally towards Welsh Government’s Cymraeg 2050 vision to achieve one million Welsh speakers, and the exciting proposal for Ysgol Llyn-y-Forwyn is a further example of this commitment.”