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QUESTIONS have been asked on whether plans to increase the capacity of an Ebbw Vale special school are ‘sufficient’.

Blaenau Gwent council’s education scrutiny committee have discussed plans to increase the capacity of Pen y Cwm Special School from 120 to 175 places by September.

Cllr Tommy Smith asked whether it is “going to be sufficient capacity or is the school going to be oversubscribed in the near future”.

He also asked whether more places should be freed up now rather than in the future.

The director of education at Blaenau Gwent council, Lynn Phillips, said the focus had been on dealing with the demand that “we can see for the foreseeable future”.

The plans for the expansion are in two phases. The first is the immediate expansion from 120 to 175 places, while the second is to look at the longer-term strategy for maintaining enough places in the school.

Mr Phillips said there would be a further review in the near future.

The committee also heard how the health and safety of pupils, staff and contractors would be managed when the work takes place.

If given the go-ahead the council plans to do most of the work outside of term time.

Under the proposal, the council will remodel the existing learning environment to create more classroom spaces and facilities including toilets.

Specific works could include relocating the post-16 area, relocating the office space, creating two primary classrooms, create an additional secondary classroom and redevelopment the science and technology room.

The expansion could cost around £250,000, which would be met by the capital maintenance grant and the Welsh Government’s additional learning needs grant funding.

The report says the school population has grown by almost 30 per cent since relocating to a new building in November 2012.

If given the go-ahead by the executive committee then a consultation on the proposals would start on April 26 and the end of May 6.

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