AN extra 55 pupils will be able to be taught at Pen y Cwm special school in Ebbw Vale.
At a special meeting on Wednesday, September 1, councillors on Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council’s Executive team agreed to redevelop the school to increase its capacity from 120 to 175.
Pen y Cwm is a special school catering for children and young people from three to 19 years old .
The school caters for a wide range of disabilities and difficulties ranging from severe learning difficulties (SLD) to profound and multiple learning difficulties (PMLD), autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) as well as visual and hearing impaired pupils.
During the last decade the number of pupils taught at Pen y Cwm has increased by over a third.
The changes will see the council remodel the school to create three additional classrooms and facilities such as toilets.
A soft play area will also be moved to the ground floor and a Science and Technology room will be redeveloped.
The changes will cost around £250,000 which will be met from the council’s capital maintenance grant and the Welsh Government’s ALN (Additional Learning Needs) grant funding.
The proposal had been subject to a six-week consultation earlier this year.
The statutory period which allows for objections against the proposal to be raised was held from June 25 to July 23.
Head of school’s improvement and inclusion, Luisa Munro-Morris said: “The consultation process determined there was widespread support for the proposals, 82 per cent were in favour of the new school development and that it would have positive impact on special education locally.”
“During the statutory notice period there were no substantive objections, only queries around things concerning hygiene provision and would there be a common room for post-16 learners.”
These questions were answered by the council.
Executive member for education, Cllr Joanne Collins said: “From my perspective this is a really positive report, and it will benefit the children and young people living in Blaenau Gwent who access provision at Pen y Cwm.”
She backed going ahead with the proposal.
Deputy leader, Cllr David Davies said; “This is a much-needed facility in our community and wider, as it’s used by other borough’s as well.”
According to the report 19 pupils living outside Blaenau Gwent also attend the school.
This influx generates an income of £522,259 for the council.
The second part of the proposal will see the council work with the school to develop a long-term plan to support sustained growth and development.
The proposal was backed unanimously by the Executive team.