User menu

Yet Another RCTC Consultation and then they do as they please anyway are they a waste of time?

Consultation agreed for 21st Century Schools investment in Pontypridd

Cabinet Members have agreed to an extensive consultation over new proposals to invest £37.4m in Pontypridd schools – which would be the latest wave of 21st Century Schools investment across the County Borough.

The proposals were considered at Cabinet’s meeting on Wednesday, October 3, having been outlined in an Officer report. Members agreed for the Council to undertake a public consultation, which was the report’s recommendation. The changes, which would be delivered during 2022, would include:

  • A new ‘all-through’ 3-16 school in Pontypridd, investing £4.7m in new facilities at the current Pontypridd High School site.
  • A new ‘all-through’ 3-16 school in Hawthorn, investing £12m in new facilities at the current Hawthorn High and Hawthorn Primary sites.
  • A new £10.7m school to improve and increase Welsh medium primary provision.
  • Post-16 Centres of Excellence at Bryncelynnog Comprehensive in Beddau and Coleg y Cymoedd in Nantgarw – investing £10m in the new sixth form provision at Bryncelynnog. 

To facilitate these proposals, the following changes would be required: 

  • The closure of Pontypridd High School and Cilfynydd Primary School, with pupils transferring to the new 3-16 school at Pontypridd High.
  • The closure of Hawthorn High School, Hawthorn Primary and Heol-y-Celyn Primary School, with pupils transferring to the new 3-16 school at the Hawthorn High and Hawthorn Primary sites. Designated ALN classes will also transfer to the new school.
  • The closure of YGG Pont Sion Norton with the pupils transferring to a new school, with brand new buildings, on the current Heol-y-Celyn Primary site. Current Welsh Medium pupils at Heol-y-Celyn will transfer to the new Welsh Medium school, and English Medium pupils will transfer to the new 3-16 school in Hawthorn.
  • The closure of sixth forms at Hawthorn High, Pontypridd High and Cardinal Newman RC Comprehensive, with pupils having the choice to transfer to the new Sixth Form Centre at Bryncelynnog or to Coleg Y Cymoedd, Nantgarw. Pupils who opt for a Roman Catholic education will receive Home to School Transport to St David’s College in Cardiff. 

The wider Taf area has recently benefitted from significant education investment – including a brand new 11-19 school at Tonyrefail as part of a £44m Education and Leisure investment, a £24.1m investment at Y Pant Comprehensive in Pontyclun, the significant expansion of Llwyncrwn Primary in Beddau, and the development of the 3-19 school for Ysgol Llanhari.

These projects were all delivered through joint funding from #RCTinvest and the Welsh Government’s 21stCentury Schools and Education Programme.

Councillor Joy Rosser, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member for Education and Lifelong Learning, said: “Cabinet has considered proposals for significant education improvements in the Pontypridd area, which would see a £37.4m investment to deliver the very best education facilities for more young people by 2022, while also delivering a more efficient and effective post-16 provision, creating more opportunities for students.

“Cabinet Members have agreed for the Council to consult upon the latest proposals for the Pontypridd area – and this will be a thorough undertaking where the Council will listen to, and take on board, the views from parents, pupils and the wider community. The Council will communicate the ways for residents to have their say on these important proposals in due course.

“The Council has already delivered many successful 21st Century Schools projects across Rhondda Cynon Taf, including an £85m investment in Rhondda and Tonyrefail, and £7.2m in Cwmaman, for 2018/19 – which have been very well received by parents and pupils. Meanwhile, proposals to invest £23.9m in Cynon Valley schools by 2022 have also recently been announced.

“Investment in our schools continues to represent a priority for the Council, and pupils are now enjoying the benefits of the latest wave of new facilities delivered for September 2018 – including ‘all through’ schools for Porth, Tonyrefail and Tonypandy, as well as new Sixth Form and science facilities, dining areas and classrooms for Treorchy. The proposals for Pontypridd will ensure more pupils continue to receive the best learning environments for their education, and I’m looking forward to hearing the feedback from the public consultation.”

Cabinet have now given approval to commence consultation on the proposals, which would, if agreed following the upcoming extensive consultation, solve a number of problems with the current provision. 

The proposals in respect of sixth forms have been brought forward to satisfy the criteria of the Learning and Skills Measure 2009 – to offer a good learning experience for pupils. There is currently unnecessary duplication of post-16 provision across schools and colleges, and learners’ choices are restricted.

The report considered by Cabinet highlighted that for a sixth form to be viable, it should have at least 250 students. In January 2018, sixth forms at Pontypridd and Hawthorn had a combined total of 245 pupils – while Bryncelynnog had 147 pupils and Cardinal Newman just 80. In 2017, 44 post-16 courses were delivered with fewer than five pupils on each. 

Meanwhile, the number of secondary school surplus places in the Greater Pontypridd area is projected to be more than 775 in 2023, which equates to the same numbers of pupils currently at Hawthorn High School. Effectively, by 2023, the Council will be funding one too many secondary schools in the area.

Also Cardinal Newman, Hawthorn High and Pontypridd High have combined financial deficits exceeding £1.6m. The majority of this deficit is a direct result of the schools’ decision to maintain small, expensive sixth forms. 

The new 3-16 schools, if agreed following consultation, would also include a review of the safe routes to each school, and potential highways investment in local communities.

The Council would invest in improvements to walkways, road crossings and, if required, speed management measures. Safer routes schemes were recently delivered in Porth, Tonyrefail, Tonypandy, Treorchy and Cwmaman – to complement the major 21st Century Schools funding for September 2018.

Posted on Friday 5th October 2018