Pupils and staff at a Swansea Valley Welsh medium school are about to move into new £9m facilities which include a concert hall, canteen and kitchen, extra classrooms, a music and drama centre and modern sports pitches.
The project carried out by Port Talbot based contractors Andrew Scott Ltd on behalf of Neath Port Talbot Council is the third phase of work which completes the modernisation of the Ystalyfera Campus of Ysgol Gymraeg Ystalyfera Bro Dur.
Funding for the third phase has come through the Welsh Government’s 21st Century Schools Programme (65%) with the remainder provided from the council’s own prudential borrowing capacity.
The existing Tawe, Maths, Swimming Pool/Canteen and Music/Drama blocks have all be demolished to make way for the much the needed new facilities which will complement earlier phases of investment costing around £26m.
Neath Port Talbot Council’s Cabinet Member of Education, Skills and Culture, Cllr Peter Rees, said: “The aim is to stimulate further growth in secondary education through the medium of Welsh in the Swansea Valley area. It’s also part of our overall Strategic School Improvement Programme designed to give our young people the best and most up to date educational facilities the council can possibly provide them with.”
This phase of investment at the Ystalyfera campus will result in the addition of a new build teaching block comprising six classrooms, a large kitchen/canteen area, specialist music and drama facilities and an impressive performance hall.
Externally, existing areas will be renewed and upgraded to provide a 3G rugby pitch, an all-weather multi games pitch and a large hard play area to ensure the school has sufficient facilities to meet ambitious pupil number growth in future years.
Staff from Andrew Scott Ltd have been working on site since October 2020 and despite the many challenges placed on the construction industry throughout the Covid 19 pandemic, the building work, now in the final stages of completion, were officially handed over to the council on 10th December 2021.
Pupils and staff will occupy the new facilities before the Christmas break with final demolition work continuing into the New Year to provide additional outdoor play and social areas.
In Neath Port Talbot, both the number and percentage of reception pupils in Welsh-medium schools has increased for the third year in a row with the percentage higher than it has been since 2013.
The total spend to date (Bands A and B) under the 21st Century Schools programme in modernising Neath Port Talbot’s school estate has now reached £165m - a massive investment in Neath Port Talbot’s next generations and the biggest of any council in Wales outside of Cardiff.
The 21st Century Schools programme is a collaboration between the Welsh Government and local councils in Wales. It is a significant, long-term and strategic capital investment programme with the aim of creating a generation of 21st Century Schools across Wales.