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Swansea’s Lord Mayor opens new school for vulnerable pupils

Credit: Swansea Council

A new school that is supporting some of Swansea’s most vulnerable young people has been officially opened by the city’s Lord Mayor.

Maes Derw brings together services that were spread over four different locations in Swansea under one roof where staff support pupils to remain or return to schools within their communities.

The £9.64m investment was jointly funded by Swansea Council and the Welsh Government under the 21st Century Schools and Colleges Programme.

Due to current restrictions Swansea’s Lord Mayor Mark Child visited the school for the socially distanced ceremony once pupils had gone home for the day.

Cllr Child said: “I’m honoured to be asked to officially open such an important new school that will support some of Swansea’s most vulnerable young people.

“The building looks absolutely fantastic but what has struck me is how pupils can now be offered a much wider curriculum alongside vocational training giving them far greater opportunities.”

Swansea Council’s Cabinet Member for Education Improvement, Learning and Skills, Jennifer Raynor said: “As well as providing a new home to the Pupil Referral Unit (PRU), the Home Tuition team and Behaviour Support team, it also includes a new Halfway House.

“Bringing these services together under one roof has transformed the support the council provides to pupils either outside or at risk of leaving mainstream education.

“Many of the pupils have complex social, emotional and behavioural difficulties which if not fully addressed reduces their chances of future employment and wellbeing.”

Pupils have been moved in to Maes Derw gradually from their previous accommodation during the last two months.

Council Leader Rob Stewart said: “Maes Derw is just part of a £150m investment in new and improved schools buildings in Swansea that means thousands of children are being taught in the very best surroundings giving them every opportunity to reach their full potential.

“This is the largest investment ever seen in our schools in Swansea and we will be announcing further projects as part of this programme during the year ahead.”

The school was built by contractors Kier Construction who worked safely throughout the coronavirus pandemic to complete the development.

Jason Taylor operations director Kier Regional building Western & Wales, said: “Collaboration has been at the heart of this project and over the past two years we have worked closely with Swansea Council, Welsh Government and the school’s headteacher to build a tailored space which meets the needs of its pupils.

“Maes Derw offers a range of modern, first-class facilities, with classrooms for large and small groups as well as spaces for activities, such as design and food technology. To aid student’s mental wellbeing the building has large windows to highlight its surroundings, including trees and fields.

“Throughout the duration of this project, we have looked to inspire students of the school by showcasing the range of roles and routes to entry available within the construction industry, by hosting careers talks and carrying out site tours using Matterport technology.  We also worked with local supply chain partner, of which 80 percent are from the Swansea community which is part of our commitment to leaving lasting legacies in areas in which we work.”