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Millions set to be invested in new facilities for city schools

AMBITIOUS plans, amounting to almost £150m of further investment in school buildings in Swansea over the coming years, have been drawn-up.

The money will be used to transform the provision for some of Swansea’s most vulnerable young people, expand the number of places for pupils being taught through the medium of Welsh to meet growing demand and to further reduce a backlog in school structural maintenance and repairs.

This will build on the considerable impact to date of the Band A programme which by March 2019 will have invested £51.3m in school facilities in addition to the Council’s annual structural maintenance programme and earlier funding accessed from the WG – a total itself approaching £100m.

The next phase of the programme covers the period from 2019 to 2024.

A new multi-million pound centre at the council’s Cockett House site in Cockett to replace the existing and outdated pupil referral units at Manselton, Penlan and Cockett has already been approved as part of the plans.

The cost of the centre will be shared with the Welsh Government and it will help more pupils who, at the moment, are educated other than at school (EOTAS) to remain or return as quickly as possible to mainstream education.

As part of the delivery of the Council’s Welsh Education Strategic Plan, there are plans to further enhance accommodation and facilities at the existing secondary schools as well as for enhanced facilities for YGG Tan-y-lan, YGG Tirdeunaw and YGG Pontybrenin pupils.

Access to funding for appropriate feasibility, design and other site preparatory works  and investigations could also support future investment to enhance educational provision in the Penderry area, reflecting the scale of potential new housing developments.

A continuing programme of replacement and remodelling works would also improve accommodation and facilities at English-medium secondary schools.  Works would be prioritised and phased to address those secondary schools in the poorest condition.

Capital investment will be similarly sought to further address condition and suitability needs across English-medium primary schools, again prioritised to reflect the scale of funding available.

Cllr Jennifer Raynor, Cabinet Member for Children, Education and Life Long Learning, said:

“Many thousands of pupils across Swansea are already benefitting from new modern facilities that are making lessons more enjoyable thanks to our investment to date.

“The Welsh Government has approved our plans in principle but are now asking us are now us for more detail of our plans for the next stage of the programme and we are making good progress in further developing our plans for 2019 to 2024.

“We have always taken the view that our ambition should match that of our pupils and parents in Swansea and this package, which represents an investment of almost £150m, clearly demonstrates our commitment to giving every youngster the best possible start in life.”

Cllr Raynor added: “Once we know the likely outcome of our submission we will start more detailed discussions with those schools that may feature in the programme. There will be much more work to do and each of the investment priorities will be subject to detailed businesses cases.”

Any formal proposals will be subject to further agreement with the Welsh Government and, where required, statutory consultations which will provide teachers, pupils, their families and the wider community with a chance to have their say.