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Cardiff Council agrees funding for flagship school project

Credit: Cardiff Council

One of Cardiff Council’s flagship projects to transform education across the city has cleared a major hurdle with the approval of funds to begin building the pioneering Fairwater Community Campus.

A new report, which went before the council’s Cabinet last week (Oct 19), recommended approving funds that will allow the main building work to go ahead on the redevelopment of the Cantonian High School site.

When the campus is completed in the 2026/27 academic year, it will incorporate three existing schools – Cantonian, Woodlands and Riverbank – and form the largest project in the Welsh Government Sustainable Communities for Learning programme.

Cllr Sarah Merry, the Council’s deputy leader and the Cabinet Member for Education, said: “Approving this report and giving the go-ahead to the funding is a significant step along the road to creating Cardiff’s first joint educational campus.

“When it is complete it will be a wonderful example for the rest of the city to follow and a huge asset for pupils, staff and the local community who will all benefit from these excellent, modern amenities.”

Under the plan, the new Fairwater Community Campus will:

  • Increase the capacity of Cantonian High from six forms of entry to eight, with sixth-form provision for up to 250 pupils in new accommodation
  • Expand the provision for learners with an Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC) at Cantonian from 20 to 30 places in new purpose-built accommodation
  • Transfer Woodlands Special School to Cantonian’s existing site and increase its capacity from 140 to 240 places in new accommodation, and
  • Transfer Riverbank Special School to Cantonian’s existing site and increase capacity from 70 to 112 places in new accommodation.

The new school will mean state-of-the-art facilities and an end to the use of temporary classrooms, as well as increasing the number of places in special schools for 4-19-year-olds with complex learning needs.

It will also have high-quality new sports facilities including a 3G rugby pitch with spectator stand, 7-a-side football pitch, and a sports and wellbeing centre comprising a four-court sports hall, an activity studio, a gym and an accessible climbing wall, plus multi-use games areas. All of these facilities would be available to the community outside of school hours and school use.

In addition, other spaces within the campus would also be available to the community outside school hours:

  • Two external play areas to promote occupational therapy experiences for people with additional learning needs
  • A community café within the campus
  • A showcase space where artists in residence could work alongside community groups and pupils.

The site will also feature a vocational Enterprise Hub, enabling the council’s Cardiff Commitment partner organisations to work with ALN pupils, building career paths and helping the transition from education to employment.

The new campus will be the first Cardiff school to be operationally net zero carbon in line with Welsh Government standards, while the building work itself will feature a significant reduction in embodied carbon. Fairwater Community Campus will be a collection of highly energy-efficient buildings that are powered from renewable energy sources, helping Cardiff to deliver on its One Planet Strategy which outlines the city’s ambition to mitigate climate change.

The report was discussed for approval at a Cabinet meeting on Thursday, October 19.