Work begins on £8m school for Port Talbot
WORK has started on an £8 million school that will welcome hundreds of Port Talbot pupils through its doors next year.
Ysgol Newydd Sandfields will replace the existing Glanymor and Tirmorfa primary schools as part of Neath Port Talbot Council's £93 million 21st Century Schools programme.
It is going up next to Glanymor Primary School, which the council has said means construction can take place without causing any disruption — and allowing both schools to move in together next autumn.
Education director Karl Napieralla said: "Creating a new school on the estate will ensure an exciting and vibrant learning community that will provide opportunities for pupils and staff to build on their successes to deliver high-quality teaching and learning in a 21st-century setting.
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"Bringing together pupils from two existing schools onto one new site will take careful planning.
"The council, together with the existing governing bodies, will be fully involving staff, pupils, parents and other stakeholders in ensuring a smooth transition."
Neath Port Talbot's ambitious improvement programme has already been approved by the Welsh Government.
Its flagship, if controversial, proposal involves closing Glan Afan, Sandfields and Cwrt Sart comprehensives and replacing them with a new "super-school" in Baglan — but there's strong opposition from Cwrt Sart.
Also included in the proposals are the creation of a new primary school at the Cwrt Sart site in Briton Ferry, which would replace three primary schools in the town.
There would also be a new Welsh secondary school created at Sandfields comprehensive, and a multi-million pound replacement for St Joseph's Comprehensive School in Port Talbot.
Millions more will be spent on a new replacement for Ysgol Gyfun Ystalyfera and Ysgol Gyfun y Wern, together with a new primary school at the Coed Darcy urban village in Llandarcy. The council decided to go ahead with its plans for the new Sandfields school before knowing if the Welsh Government would make any contribution. This was because of the poor state of the buildings at Glanymor.
However, the Welsh Government has confirmed a £1 million contribution, which could increase to as much as £4 million later.
This will free up cash for Neath Port Talbot to spend on other elements of its 21st Century Schools programme.
The new school, planned to open in September next year, will be English medium and expected to accommodate around 350 pupils aged between three and 11.
It will also include a primary inclusion centre along with pre-school childcare and associated community facilities.
Council leader Ali Thomas said: "Modern facilities and inspirational teaching are crucial in providing our children with the best possible start in their lives. This is an important project not only in education terms but also to the economy and regeneration of the area."