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Proposed school investment in three communities progressed

RCT Cabinet has agreed to progress 21st Century Schools proposals that would deliver new buildings and first-class education facilities for existing primary schools in Llantwit Fardre, Talbot Green and Glyncoch.

A report to the Cabinet meeting on Monday, December 13, sought Members’ approval for the Council to submit business cases to Welsh Government, to bid for Mutual Investment Model (MIM) funding for the three projects – via the revenue funding route of the 21st Century Schools and Colleges Programme.

Cabinet agreed to submit a business case for all of the MIM projects, which include delivering replacement community primary schools for Maesybryn Primary (Llantwit Fardre) and Tonysguboriau Primary (Talbot Green).

Subject to the outcome of a statutory School Organisation consultation, a new community primary school for Glyncoch would also be delivered, and Members have now given formal approval to commence a consultation to close Cefn Primary and Craig-yr-Hesg Primary Schools as part of this proposal. The new primary school at Glyncoch would be built on the existing Craig yr Hesg Primary School site and the land adjacent to it (the former site of the Ty Gwyn Pupil Referral Unit). The new school would serve the combined catchment areas of the two existing schools – and would be delivered no later than September 2026.

£9m proposals for Glyncoch

The Cabinet report outlined the urgent need to replace the buildings at Cefn Primary and Craig-yr-Hesg Primary, which are among the poorest buildings in the Council’s education portfolio. Located 0.7 miles apart, the schools formed a federation in 2012 and operate under a single executive headteacher.

In a 2020 survey, the Cefn Primary building received a grading of ‘D’ for both condition and suitability (where ‘A’ is the highest-performing and ‘D’ is the lowest). The school does not meet accessibility standards, and little can be done to improve the site. The 1970s building has a maintenance backlog of £58,000, and the school is projected to have 34.8% surplus places by 2025/26.

Craig-yr-Hesg Primary’s buildings received a grading of ‘C’ for condition and suitability in a 2019 survey. The 1950s building has a maintenance backlog of £196,000 and is projected to exceed its capacity over the next five years.

The proposed £9m investment would improve and expand facilities providing modern and flexible learning environments, accessible facilities for wider community use, enhanced outdoor spaces and improved traffic management. A Safe Routes to School review will be conducted, and could result in local improvements to walkways, crossing points and traffic calming measures.

The new school is proposed to be built on a new site which includes the existing Craig-yr-Hesg Primary site and land adjacent to it (the former site of the Ty Gwyn Pupil Referral Unit) which is in the Council’s ownership. These combined sites provide a suitable size for the new school and outdoor areas, and place the new school in a prominent position at the entrance to the village.

£9m proposals for Maesybryn Primary (Llantwit Fardre)

The 1960s school building is surrounded by a number of modular buildings added from the 1980s onwards, and a site condition survey in 2019 indicated a grading of ‘C’ for both condition and suitability. The school is located in a residential cul-de-sac, making drop-off and pick-up times challenging and parking inadequate. The building has a maintenance backlog of £429,000.

It is proposed that a new English Medium primary school is created on the current site, to provide a fully-accessible 21st Century School.

£9m proposals for Tonysguboriau Primary (Talbot Green)

The main block was constructed before 1919 and has a 1960s extension – connected by a main hall. A condition survey in 2019 indicated a grading of ‘D’ for condition and suitability, while the original roof needs replacing. The school has a maintenance backlog of more than £990,000.

It is proposed that a new English Medium primary school is created on the current site, to provide a fully-accessible 21st Century School.

Councillor Joy Rosser, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member for Education and Inclusion Services, said: “I’m pleased that Cabinet has progressed initial proposals for a new primary school in Glyncoch, including the amalgamation of two existing schools, along with plans for new 21st Century buildings in Llantwit Fardre and Talbot Green. Each of the projects will replace ageing buildings with brand new school and community facilities.

“These projects were first announced in October 2021, as part of a wider £85m investment using additional resources which have been made available under Band B of Welsh Government’s 21stCentury Schools and Colleges Programme. The three schemes agreed by Cabinet today represent a total £27m investment, as we look to extend our excellent recent track record of delivering brand new education facilities in even more of our communities.

“On top of those new schemes announced in October, work is progressing on site to deliver multi-million pound improvements at Ysgol Rhydywaun and YGG Aberdâr, while the consultation has recently been undertaken on separate Band B Mutual Investment Model projects for Llanilltud Faerdref Primary, Pontyclun Primary and Penygawsi Primary. A new Welsh Medium primary school for Rhydyfelin and a new sixth form block at Bryn Celynnog Comprehensive are also part of a wider £55m investment planned for Greater Pontypridd by 2024.

“The three projects for Glyncoch, Maesybryn Primary and Tonysguboriau Primary will now be progressed following Cabinet’s agreement. Engagement with the community forms such an important part of all our school investment projects, and residents are assured that they will have the chance to find out more and formally have their say on each of the proposals in due course.”