Building communities for learning

  • 28th March 2024

Projects already under construction include a new net-zero-carbon ‘all-through’ school in Abergavenny

Local authorities across Wales are continuing to plan for future educational needs, with proposals being submitted to the Welsh Government’s Sustainable Communities for Learning programme.

Launched in January 2022, and formerly known at the 21st Century Schools Programme, the funding model provides a rolling programme of infrastructure projects covering a nine-year period split into three sections of three years each.

The first three years up to 2027 will be made up of projects expected to reach full business case stage.

The projects in the second three-year period up to 2030 are those that are being developed and need to through consultation.

And the last period covers long-term ‘pipeline’ projects.

Local authorities will review their programme every three years and, over its lifespan, the model is expected to deliver over £1.5bn worth of improved learning facilities underpinned by the Government’s net-zero carbon commitment.

Funding for approved schemes comes primarily from the Government, although councils are expected to contribute.

The current rate is that proposals for community, voluntary-controlled, and foundation schools receive 65% of funding from the Government, with special schools and pupil referral units getting 75% and voluntary-aided schools of religious character get 85%.

At a recent meeting of the Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council’s Cabinet, education portfolio holder, Councillor Sue Edmunds, gave an update on projects being taken forward under the programme, including plans for extensions at two secondary schools that are full to capacity.

Under the first tranche of the programme, the council is hoping to deliver £24m worth of improvements at Ebbw Fawr Learning Community, Tredegar Comprehensive School, and Pen y Cwm Special School.

In the medium term, Cllr Edmunds said they were looking at refurbishment and new-build projects at five schools; and the future pipeline includes a new primary and secondary school.

In Monmouthshire, projects already under construction include a new net-zero-carbon ‘all-through’ school in Abergavenny, which will deliver education for pupils aged from 3-19.

Being built by Morgan Sindall Construction, the project is due for completion by next summer.

And Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council has completed a number of projects, with work ongoing to build three new primary and all-through schools and extensions to existing facilities at five other sites.

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