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Cardiff Council Plans Multi-Million Pound School Investment

Cyngor Caerdydd yn creu cynllun ysgol uchelgeisiol gwerth miliynau o bunnoedd i'r ddinas

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Cardiff Council is drawing-up plans for the next phase of its multi-million pound investment in the city’s schools.

The council’s current round of investment, match-funded by Welsh Government through the 21st Century Schools Programme, is due to be completed by 2019. Planning is underway to pump additional multi-million pound funds into Cardiff schools, in a second phase of investment that will run until 2024.

Under the current 21st Century Schools Programme, which is known as ‘Band A’, Cardiff Council has invested £164m in building new schools, and expanding and improving existing schools since 2014.

Projects funded by Band A include building two new secondary schools – Eastern High school and Cardiff West Community High School – and six new primary schools – Howardian, Gabalfa, Pontprennau, Ysgol Glan Ceubal, Ysgol Glan Morfa and Ysgol Hamadryad.

Initial proposals for the next round of investment – Band B – are included in a report being discussed at a Cardiff Council Cabinet meeting on October 12. The report includes a recommendation to request match-funding from Welsh Government in order for the local authority to:

  • Build three new secondary schools
  • Invest in additional English-medium secondary school provision in central Cardiff
  • Expand and improve the condition of special education provision at both primary and secondary school level
  • Increase Welsh-medium primary school provision in the eastern and western areas of Cardiff
  • Increase English-medium primary school provision for Cardiff Bay and the west of the city

Commenting on the proposals, Deputy Leader of Cardiff Council and Cabinet Member for Education, Employment and Skills, Cllr Sarah Merry, said:

“Through this next phase of our 21st Century Schools Programme we want to maintain the momentum that has been built by the exciting range of projects we have delivered with Welsh Government since 2014, and continue to create inspiring, sustainable, community-focussed schools in which our children and young people can achieve their potential.

“Not only will our next round of investment allow us to continue to renew our schools, replacing those that are reaching the end of their operational life, but it will also enable us to provide more school places across all sectors – primary, secondary, additional learning needs, English-medium and Welsh-medium – creating the extra capacity that will be needed as Cardiff’s population continues to grow.

“In terms of school investment in Cardiff, these last few months have been extraordinary. I have been to turf-cutting events at sites for four new primary schools – and I am looking forward to doing the same at Cardiff West Community High and Ysgol Hamadryad in the coming weeks. I also attended an event to mark the completion of building work at Eastern Community Campus, a new home for Eastern High school and Cardiff and Vale College.

“At each of these events I was struck by the excitement of the pupils and students, staff and governors, at the thought of having a new school. It is vital that we continue this momentum and deliver a next phase investment which allows even more of our children and young people to benefit from learning environments fit for the 21st Century.”

Details of specific schemes will be considered by the council’s cabinet at a future meeting, pending the outcome of the Welsh Government’s funding decision in the autumn.

The report to Cabinet also states that a large number of primary, secondary and special schools in Cardiff are in a poor state of repair.

It outlines the need for additional funding to maintain, replace and expand Cardiff schools, recognising that the Band B 21st Century Schools Programme will not be enough to cover the significant maintenance backlog in the city’s schools.

Approximately £17m, or 14%, of the maintenance issues have been addressed by Band A 21st Century Schools investment, leaving £68m worth of repairs outstanding.,

A further £5m was added to the annual maintenance budget of £3m in 2016-17, to address compliance issues.

As well as identifying the cost of addressing the maintenance needs, the report goes on to say that Cantonian High, Willows High and Fitzalan High have been assessed ‘Category D’ for condition, meaning that they are at the end of their life in terms of their condition.

The condition of a large proportion of primary, secondary and special schools has been assessed as ‘Category C’, which means that they are exhibiting major deterioration.

Two of the city’s special schools – Court and Riverbank – are in the ‘C- sub category’ for condition, requiring urgent attention in the near future.

Cllr Sarah Merry added:

“While the next phase of 21st Century Schools investment will go some way in addressing the serious state of the schools estate in Cardiff, we need to identify significant additional funding in order to ensure that our schools remain safe and fit for purpose.

The full Cabinet Report detailing the proposals is available to view online at www.cardiff.gov.uk/meetings