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Neath Port Talbot school projects up for discussion

A NUMBER of major school building and refurbishment projects could be given the go-ahead by Neath Port Talbot Council this month, including a new-build replacement building for Godre’rgraig Primary School which was evacuated in 2019 because of landslip fears.

Neath Port Talbot Council’s cabinet will meet on November 20, where they will discuss a series of ambitious new school project submissions to be included in the Welsh Government’s Sustainable Communities for Learning funding programme.

The project is part of a long term investment for schools and colleges from Welsh Government, aimed to develop them as hubs for learning and to reduce buildings in poor condition.

Most notably, one submission from the council will propose a new-build, English medium school worth £17 million, to replace the closed Godre’rgraig Primary School on Gnoll Road, to provide 210 full-time and 30 part-time nursery places.

The school has been at the centre of much debate in the borough over the last few years after it was closed in 2019, when fears of a landslip from a nearby quarry spoil tip forced students to relocate to temporary portable classrooms on the sports field adjoining Cwmtawe Community School. You can read more about children with no permanent school here.

Additionally, a £10 million extension to Ysgol Maes Y Coed Special School in Bryncoch will be requested, to allow the site to take in 40 extra pupils who would benefit from the specialist facilities there.

There would also be a proposal for a complete refurbishment of the vacated Education, Library and Resource Service (ELRS) building at Reginald Street, Port Talbot. This would cost £9 million and would aim to create a new central hub offering a range of skills-based learning and vocational opportunities for pupils across Neath Port Talbot.

Finally, a £17 million replacement, single-site school for Ysgol Hendrefelin
Special School, which is a maintained community special school currently based on three sites, would look to create a new central hub offering a range of skills-based learning and vocational opportunities for pupils.

The discussions will now take place next week, with officers and education officials recommending that members progress with the submission of the plans to Welsh Government before they can be developed in more detail.

A council spokesperson said: “Under the Sustainable Communities for Learning programme, the Welsh Government provides 75% funding of special school projects and 65% for all others, with the remaining funding
provided by the council.

“If approval is given then officers will be able to submit a variation request asking for the additional schemes to be included in the council’s capital programme, and for the Swansea Valley scheme to be removed following the determination in March, 2023, not to progress the project. If the request is then approved by Welsh Government, each new scheme will need to be developed in more detail, with a full business case submitted before any funding is agreed.”