A CONSULTATION will take place on £8.5 million plans to move Ferndale primary school.
Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s cabinet approved holding a public consultation into the proposal to move Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Llyn-y-Forwyn in Ferndale into a new building on a new site at its meeting on Thursday, January 28.
It’s part of RCT Council’s plan to increase capacity and improve the quality of the Welsh-medium primary education provision available to learners in the Rhondda Fach area.
The cabinet report said that urgent investment is needed to replace YGG Llyn-y-Forwyn which is currently “one of the poorest buildings in the education portfolio.”
The report said the current school is not compliant with the Equality Act 2010 in terms of accessibility and that given the restrictions of the site there is little that can be done to remedy this.
It added the opportunities for outdoor play are limited, there are no external green spaces available and all of the hard play areas are affected by the sloping topography.
There is no on-site staff car parking available which means that staff have to park in the neighbouring streets and the home to school transport drop-off area is located in the street below.
The school also currently has a maintenance backlog in excess of £1m.
The Estyn inspection carried out in January 2019 judged the school’s current performance in all five inspection areas as ‘good’ but Estyn commented on the outdoor areas of the school that they have not been developed to the same standard and use of them is very limited.
The proposal under the 21st Century Schools Programme is to create a new £8.5 million school building on a new site but the catchment area would not be changed.
It would be built on the land north of Highfield, Ferndale known locally as the former Chubb Factory.
This site was chosen as the preferred location for the school following a site appraisal of 11 areas, all located within the Rhondda Fach and each identified as potential candidate site which were then narrowed down to three.
The former Chubb Factory site was chosen because of its size, the existing infrastructure, current access arrangements and its proximity to the existing school.
It would include modern, flexible learning environments for all learners, a hall and dining area and a multi-purpose learning resource area.
It would also have accessible internal and external facilities for wider community use and enhanced outdoor spaces to support the full range of curriculum activities, including an outdoor classroom and a “forest schools” area.
It would also have improved traffic management including on-site pupil bus drop off and on-site staff parking.
The investment would also include a review of safe routes to school and, if required, an investment in improvements to walkways, road crossings and traffic calming measures to ensure the required safety standards are met.
Councillor Joy Rosser, cabinet member for education said:
“What’s not to like about it? It’s another new school building to replace an extremely outdated building which as the report says is one of the poorest buildings in the education portfolio.
“This will give us yet another new and modern learning environment for our pupils as well as increase capacity with accessible internal and external facilities which will also be available for community use.”
She said the new Hirwaun school is very impressive and that it’s great to see another one on the cards.
She said the preferred location appears to be ideal and the proposal further builds on the council’s commitment to increase and improve Welsh-medium education and thereby increase numbers of Welsh learners.
Councillor Susan Morgans who represents Ferndale on the council said it’s a big deal in the community and they really need the school to be improved.
“It’s gone downhill so much in the last couple of years and I know that this will help also promote our Welsh medium pupil base as well so I really look forward to consideration.
Councillor Jack Harries who represents Maerdy said he gives his unwavering support for the proposal.
“The school facilities and the general site is no longer fit for purpose. Welsh-medium education is vital with it being the only Welsh-medium primary school in the Rhondda Fach. Our pupils must receive the best facilities.”
Councillor Robert Bevan, who represents Ferndale on the council welcomed the proposal and said it was the natural choice in terms of the new site.
He said: “As you know the land is at a premium particularly in the Rhondda Fach which is a very narrow valley.”
He said his only concern was the outstanding planning consent on the new site for housing and light industrial units and asked how they’d overcome it.
Council officer Simon Gale said they’re considering submitting the site as a candidate site for education in the Local Development Plan.
The consultation is set to take place from March 1 to April 30.