Posted: Wed 31st Jan 2024

New Special School in Blaenau Gwent Should Be Given Priority, Says Councillor

news.wales / newyddion.cymru
This article is old - Published: Wednesday, Jan 31st, 2024

PLANS for a new special school in Blaenau Gwent should be given priority, a councillor has said.
At a meeting of Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council’s Place Scrutiny Committee on Tuesday, January 30, councillors were given an update on the future schools building programme.
At the meeting councillors looked at a list of projects that will be submitted to the Welsh Government for funding this year and also projects that are in the pipeline for the next decade.
Blaenau Gwent want to submit an outline business case to the Welsh Government for Pen y Cwm Special School in Ebbw Vale, which could cost £15 million.
The school teaches children with special educational needs, including severe learning difficulties, profound and multiple learning difficulties or autistic spectrum disorders, between the ages of three to 19.
The Welsh Government would be expected to provide 65 per cent of the funding with the council needing to find the remainder.
Cllr Jen Thomas who is also chairwoman of the Pen y Cwm school governors said: “We all know Pen y Cwm is bursting at the seams. There’s no more room for any children.”
She added: “Some of the children who should be going to Pen y Cwm are going into mainstream schools and it’s putting pressure on staff.
“Why isn’t this a priority as it’s been batted around for the last four years.”
Education transformation manager, Joanne Watts said: “We’ve worked with the school to deal with their immediate issues in terms of sensory provision, developing a Hobbit house for outdoor learning, and turning office space into classrooms to help.
“We’re trying to look at the future demand so that we are proposing the right option so that the business case is accurate.”
She explained that the funding process could take longer if the Welsh Government come back to the council wanting more details on the proposal.
Cllr Thomas believed the proposal should be ready by now.
Cllr Thomas said: “I’m concerned that there’s going to be another delay on the extension or the new school, at the moment it’s not fit for purpose.
“All the children that need to come in, can’t as there’s not enough space.”
Ms Watts disputed this and believed that the number of pupils coming to the school in September were “at the same level” as the numbers that leave in July.
As Pen y Cwm is a “relatively new school” Cllr David Wilkshire believed that the council hadn’t correctly planned a school big enough to cater for the need.
“I’ve been down there, and the facilities are superb, but things have moved on and we’ve got more children there,” said Cllr Wilkshire
Comments from the committee will be added to the report – which will be presented to Cabinet at a meeting next month for a decision.
Pen-y-Cwm was established in 1976 and was once based on the same site as Beaufort Hill Primary school.
In November 2012, the school moved and was co-located along with Ebbw Fawr Learning Community Primary phase and the Integrated Childrens Centre at a purpose built facility based on the former works site in Ebbw Vale.
Proposal that will go to the Welsh Government from Blaenau Gwent this year in front of Pen y Cwm are:
Ebbw Fawr 3-16 Learning Community – Secondary Phase Extension worth £5 million – planning approval has already been given by the council and it is expected that a full business will be submitted to the Welsh Government in April.
Tredegar Comprehensive school extension – worth up to £4 million – a full business case is expected to be submitted to the Welsh Government in May. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​



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