BRIDGEND Council has approved plans to merge two primary schools and extend another in Cornelly, which is expected to cost around £12.5 million.
The council’s cabinet agreed to replace Corneli and Afon y Felin primary schools with a new build and extend Ysgol y Ferch O’r Sgêr during a meeting held on Tuesday June 22.
Council leader Huw David said the project marks the council’s “biggest ever primary school investment”.
A new two-form entry English-medium school with a 60-place nursery and 15-place additional learning needs resource centre will replace Corneli and Afon y Felin from September 2023. It will be built on land at the Plas Morlais estate, currently owned by Valleys to Coast Housing.
Ysgol y Ferch O’r Sgêr, will become a two form-entry Welsh-medium school with 60 nursery places and expanded on the existing Corneli Primary School/Ysgol y Ferch O’r Sgêr site from September 2024.
The integrated children’s centre on the Corneli Primary site will remain and new facilities like outdoor sports facilities will be created.
Christoper Lewis, the council’s project manager for school modernisation, said the existing schools are “in quite a bad way”, each with a backlog in maintenance costs of around £500,000.
Deputy leader of the council Hywel Williams said: “It’s obviously a great opportunity for the young people of Cornelly to have a fantastic facility in which to receive their education and I’m comforted by the emphasis that we are going to place on the small school ethos.
“I’m very concerned by the condition of Afon Y Felin school, we just really don’t know how long that building has got left as a viable education establisment. I don’t think we can lose any time on this.”
A report by Mr Lewis states the new school buildings will be funded by an annual charge of around £500,000 over 25 years “but this
will be determined as the scheme progresses”.
The Welsh Government will fund 81% of the project, with the council covering the rest, plus “35% of any up-front capital investment for ICT and furniture and equipment”.
The report adds: “It is too early to say whether there will be efficiency savings or additional costs from the proposed new school, and future reports to cabinet will outline the financial implications, as they are known, in more detail.”
Cllr Nicole Burnett, cabinet member for social services and early help, said: “I moved my children during their primary school years form a very small country school to a large town school…
“It turned out to be the making of them and it proved that a small school culture and environment can exist within a large school… I found it very good for their confidence levels and it made it easier for them to transition into comprehensive school.”
Cabinet member for education and regeneration Charles Smith said: “Cornelly is an historic place and I think this is a very historic day for Cornelly.”
He added there will be “plenty of time” for pupils to get used to their new schools.