Posted: Tue 20th Feb 2024

Gwent council questions affordability of new Welsh medium school in budget discussions

news.wales / newyddion.cymru
This article is old - Published: Tuesday, Feb 20th, 2024

CAN a cash strapped Gwent council afford running a new Welsh medium school when it gets built, a councillor has asked.
At a meeting of Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council’s Corporate Performance and Overview Scrutiny committee on Monday, February 19 councillors went through proposals in the draft budget.
A Council Tax rise of five per cent and a minimum of £6.27 million worth of efficiencies and cuts are needed to plug a funding gap in the 2024/2025 budget.
This figure could rise towards £10 million as the council also works on proposals to address funding gaps in future financial years which is predicted to be £34 million over the next five years.
Money to build the new school in Tredegar comes from a different budget pot and is mostly funded from the Welsh Government.
When the Welsh medium primary school is completed the cost of running the school will need to be factored into the council’s budgets alongside the county borough’s other schools.
In next year’s budget, Blaenau Gwent schools are set to receive the same funding as they received this year – which is in effect a £1 million cut.
Cllr Gareth Alban Davies asked whether the council had started building the new school and whether it would have an impact on the main council budget.
Interim director of education Lisa Munro-Morris said: “Building work has started, it not due to open until the following year (2025/2026) it’s separate funding so it wouldn’t impact on schools budget.
Cllr Davies said: “My question was around the affordability of running it considering we are looking at significant funding cuts over the next four to five years.
“I’m not saying I’m against or that we don’t need it, my concern is can we run it.
Dr Munro-Morris said: “It’s being developed in a way where it’s going be very cost effective in terms of energy, it should not impact on other school budgets.”
Recommendations from the committee will be added to the draft budget report which will be discussed by Cabinet on Wednesday (February 21) before going on to be finalised at a full council meeting on Tuesday, February 27.
In September 2022, the council’s Planning Committee approved an application for a primary school with childcare and nursery facility on a brownfield site at Chartist Way.
At a Cabinet meeting in November last year, it was revealed that the costs of building the school have more than doubled from an estimated £6.2 million in September 2022 to £13.5 million.
Known as Ysgol Gymraeg Tredegar it had originally been expected that the school would have been finished by April.
But this has been delayed by a year with a finish date of spring 2025 now being mooted by the council.
The school has been described as “seedling,” which means it would start with a first intake of early years and reception pupils, expanding on an annual basis through the school years.
It will take six years to fill up with pupils from three to 11 years old.
The school would be federated with the county borough’s only current Welsh medium primary school, Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Helyg in Nantyglo.
This means both schools would have the governing body and headteacher. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​



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