Posted: Wed 18th Oct 2023

Plans for New Special School in Rhondda Cynon Taf Move Forward

news.wales / newyddion.cymru
This article is old - Published: Wednesday, Oct 18th, 2023

Plans for a new special school in Rhondda Cynon Taf look set to take another step forward.
The proposal is to open a new 3 to 19 special school in Rhondda Cynon Taf (RCT) to take the number from four to five and to introduce catchment areas for all 3 to 19 special schools across RCT.
The preferred site for the new special school is the current council headquarters in Clydach Vale, which the council will be moving out of.
In June, the council’s cabinet agreed to consult on the proposal with the reason behind it being the pressures faced by RCT’s special schools as the number of pupils placed in these specialist provisions are increasing on an annual basis and children’s needs are becoming more complex.
The June cabinet report highlighted the limitations of each special school site and all opportunities to significantly extend and increase capacities have been looked at and, where possible, done.
The current special schools in RCT include Maesgwyn Special School, in Cwmdare, Park Lane Special School inTrecynon, Ysgol Hen Felin in Ystrad, and Ysgol Ty Coch in Tonteg with Buarth y Capel in Ynysybwl being a satellite site of Ysgol Ty Coch for learners with very complex autism spectrum disorder.
Under the proposals for the new special school, where the council decides to change the catchment areas for a school, existing transport arrangements will be protected for the pupils living in the areas affected for the duration of their attendance at the school or until they reach the end of that phase.
In exceptional circumstances, the council may consider transporting siblings to the same school.
Children and young people who wish to remain in their existing special school placement following the catchment changes can continue to do so but all new special school placements will be done through the revised catchment areas once the changes are implemented so that pupils attend their local special school.
There have been 46 written responses received during the consultation with one in writing and 45 via the online survey,
There were also meetings with staff and governing bodies, the school council, a drop-in session and it was discussed at the education and inclusion scrutiny committee.
Out of the 46 written responses 26 (56.5%) were in favour of the proposal, 17
(38%) were against and three (6.5%) were unsure.
The cabinet report said that funding will be secured via the Welsh Government’s Sustainable Communities for Learning Programme at a rate of 75% with the latest figures showing that the funding being made available for the new 3-19 special school being £53.4m.
It said: “Costs will be developed alongside the consultation process and approvals sought in line with the council’s decision-making procedures.
“Any revenue implications resulting as a consequence of the new 3 to 19 special school, including the school’s delegated budget and any potential increases in home to school transport costs will be identified as the proposal is develops.”
With cabinet’s approval, and subject to the matter not being called in for consideration by scrutiny, a statutory notice will be published on November 6 and will allow for a minimum 28-day period for objections, ending on December 4.
If any objections are received during this period, a report would be prepared and go to a future meeting of the council’s cabinet.
The report concludes by saying: “Building a new 3 to 19 special school in RCT, and creating further capacity in our current provision, will ensure that the council can continue to meet its statutory obligations.
“The proposed investment to open a new 3 to 19 special school in RCT on a new site provides the opportunity for more pupils with ALN to benefit from improved educational facilities and learning environments.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​



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