A recent public consultation over a proposed new £8.5m school for Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Llyn-y-Forwyn in Ferndale has shown local support for the investment plans, which will be considered by Cabinet shortly.
A report to the RCT Council Cabinet meeting on Thursday, June 17, presents the outcome of the extensive public consultation, which took place from March 1 to April 30 this year. The report recommends that Members agree to progress the proposals, which would see the new school and community facilities delivered by 2024 – through the publication of an appropriate Statutory Notice.
The proposals for YGG Llyn-y-Forwyn aim to provide 21st Century facilities and expand the local Welsh Medium primary education offer, while also addressing several limitations of the current school site. A 2019 condition survey for the two existing Victorian buildings indicated a ‘D’ for condition and ‘C’ for suitability (on a scale where ‘A’ is the highest-performing and ‘D’ is the lowest) – while they have a backlog of maintenance of more than £1m.
An Estyn inspection in 2019 also commented on the standard of the school’s outdoor areas. The sloping play areas make outdoor learning a challenge, while there are no green spaces. The current site is also not accessible, with school transport using the residential areas below the school and no staff car park available. Little can be done about these issues at the current site.
The Council’s £8.5m proposals would therefore utilise a new site in Ferndale to expand facilities and create extra capacity. It would include modern and flexible learning environments, accessible internal and external facilities with community use, enhanced outdoor spaces to support all curriculum activities, a staff car park and a drop-off point for buses. It is proposed that the school will be built on land north of Highfield, known as the former ‘Chubb Factory’.
The Council consulted key stakeholders and the wider community over an eight-week period from March to April 2021. Face-to-face meetings with the community could not be held due to the pandemic, but virtual meetings with staff, governors and pupils at YGG Llyn-y-Forwyn were held via video link.
Separately, 72 written responses were received from the community, via an online survey on the Council’s website. In total, 70 of these were in agreement with the proposal to build a new school. A full summary of the consultation responses is included in an Appendix to Thursday’s Cabinet report.
If Cabinet Members agree with the recommendations of the report, a Statutory Notice for the changes will be published on June 25, then allowing for a period for objections. A further report would then be considered by Cabinet later this year, in order to make a final decision on these investment proposals.
Councillor Joy Rosser, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member for Education and Inclusion Services, said: “Cabinet last considered the proposals in January 2021, approving a formal consultation period which has since been carried out by the Council. The report to Cabinet on Thursday outlines a very encouraging response from those participants in the community, with 70 of the 72 written responses in support of the proposals.
“The new school for YGG Llyn-y-Forwyn would be delivered through the Council’s School Modernisation Programme, complementing significant 21st Century Schools projects being delivered in the County Borough – including at YGG Aberdâr, Ysgol Rhydywaun, Ffynnon Taf Primary School and across Greater Pontypridd. The £8.5m investment for Ferndale would deliver a zero carbon building conforming to the Council’s Climate Change commitments.
“The project would also contribute to the outcomes listed in the Council’s Welsh in Education Strategic Plan – to improve and expand Welsh Medium education provision in the County Borough. The proposals would improve the quality of the current provision in Ferndale, by investing in an accessible site with 21st Century facilities, community provision and opportunities for outdoor learning – all of which are currently not available at the existing school site.
“Cabinet will consider the Officer report and the outcome of the consultation process at their meeting on Thursday – and Members could choose to progress the proposals to the next stage of the consultation process.”