The latest new buildings in a flagship Welsh medium school development which is part of Neath Port Talbot Council’s £123m schools modernisation programme have been officially opened.
Councillor Peter Rees, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Education, Skills and Culture, was in the Swansea Valley to open the new facilities at Ysgol Gymraeg Ystalyfera Bro Dur.
The multi-million pound project to modernise the Welsh medium school, which has a 40-year history, has seen the creation of a 3 -19 all-through “middle school” on two campuses.
One is in the south at Sandfields, Port Talbot (Bro Dur), a new-build £19m school for pupils aged 11-16 living in the south of the county borough (constructed by Bouygues and due to be officially opened next month), with the other is in the north (Ystalyfera) for pupils aged 3-19.
On the north site, the project has included building a new block for secondary aged pupils – “Bloc Eirion” – which boasts new science labs, a canteen and a dining area, a sixth form common room and other teaching rooms – all providing pupils with 21st century facilities and resources.
Work was completed by contractors Dawnus ready for pupils to occupy the new build in January 2017.
Phase two at Ystalyfera involved creating the primary phase building, a two-storey teaching block to accommodate up to 200 pupils aged 3-11, with light and airy classrooms and modern facilities.
The new “blocks” were opened by Councillor Rees with others in attendance including Council Leader, Cllr Rob Jones, Deputy Leader, Cllr Anthony Taylor, Chief Executive Steve Phillips and Aled Evans, Director of Education, Leisure and Lifelong Learning.
The development of the two campuses is all part of Neath Port Talbot Council’s Strategic School Improvement Programme designed to modernise educational provision across the County Borough – helping ensure the right schools are in the right places and that they are capable of delivering an education fit for the 21st century digital-age learner.
In the past decade, more than £123m has been ploughed into modernising Neath Port Talbot’s educational estate – a massive investment in the county borough’s next generations and the biggest of any council in Wales outside of Cardiff.
The money has been provided on a 50:50 basis by Neath Port Talbot Council and the Welsh Government’s 21st Century Schools programme.
The new school developments have included the £7.9m Awel y Mor Primary School in Sandfields, Port Talbot, the £40m award winning, all-through Ysgol Bae Baglan in Baglan Moors, the all-through Ysgol Cwm Brombil in Margam and the £7m Ysgol Carreg Hir primary in Briton Ferry.
The Council is now developing the next phase of schemes for its Strategic School Improvement Programme with the Welsh Government and has indicated approval “in principle” for capital grant support for projects including Cefn Saeson Comprehensive (ca.£29m), Ysgol Newydd Cwmtawe (ca.£14m), Ysgol Newydd Coed Darcy (ca.£9m) and Abbey Primary School (ca.£9m).
Cllr Rees said:
“Neath Port Talbot Council is committed to delivering Welsh medium education of the highest quality and this latest investment provides firm evidence of that ambition being delivered on the ground.”