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Councillors set to approve new special school in Rhondda Cynon Taf

Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council (Pic: RCTCBC)

COUNCILLORS are set to approve a proposal to build a new special school in Rhondda Cynon Taf.

The council’s cabinet on Wednesday, January 24 will be asked to give its backing to the plans which would also see catchment areas introduced for all 3 to 19 special schools across RCT which include Park Lane Special School, Ysgol Hen Felin and Ysgol Ty Coch.

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 length of their time 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 want 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 made by the revised catchment areas once the changes are implemented so that pupils attend their local special school.

In June last year, cabinet agreed to consult on the plans and in October it agreed to take the plans to the next stage.

No objections or comments were received in response to the statutory notice on the proposal.

The funding for the school is set to involve 75% coming from Welsh Government’s Sustainable Communities for Learning Programme and scheme costs will be developed as the scheme progresses.

The council’s borrowing to fund its 25% contribution will be subject to approval.

Any revenue spend resulting as a consequence of the new school, including the school’s delegated budget and any potential increases in home to school transport costs will be identified as the proposal develops and will be built into the council’s medium term financial plan.

The report to cabinet said the reasons for the proposal are to allow the council to continue meeting its statutory duty and have appropriate special school provision for pupils with additional learning needs (ALN) and avoid long-term budgetary pressures for the council and to better meet and manage the demand for special school places across RCT, helping to ensure that pupils are allocated places in the special school nearest their home.

It said: “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.”