£68 million Gwendraeth Valley schools shake-up plan to go ahead
A SCHOOLS merger in the Gwendraeth Valley has been given the go-ahead, as part of an education shake- up.
Welsh Government Education Minister Leighton Andrews has approved plans for £68 million investment in Carmarthenshire schools, after "careful" consideration of statutory objections.
The plans will see Ysgol y Gwendraeth in Drefach merge with Ysgol Maes yr Yrfa at the latter's Cefneithin site.
The proposals for the Transformation of Secondary Education in the Dinefwr area also includes major investment and expansion for Amman Valley School.
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An establishment of a new secondary school in the Tywi Valley to replace Pantycelyn and Tre-Gib is also part of the plans.
It is proposed to reorganise the schools from September 2013.
Ysgol y Gwendraeth and Maes yr Yrfa are already run by the same headmaster, Iwan Rees, who took on the joint role in September.
Proposals were forced to go before the minister, because of 36 objections received by the council last year.
Gorslas county councillor Terry Davies, whose ward Maes yr Yrfa sits in, said he had "mixed feelings" about the news.
"On one hand, I am sad at the closure of Ysgol y Gwendraeth, which has given the valley good education," he said.
"But on the other, I'm relieved for the parents, who have had to deal with this delay, which has caused uncertainty for them. Hopefully everything will move ahead quickly now."
The Minister said he had "carefully considered" the proposals, statutory objections and comments from Carmarthenshire Council. He said he was satisfied the proposals were consistent with policy, offered at least the equivalent quality and diversity of education — provided in superior accommodation — and that the local authority had met its statutory requirements in respect of consultation.
Carmarthenshire Council leader Kevin Madge said: "We are pleased with the Minister's decision and look forward to providing this significant investment in education in the Dinefwr area which will benefit so many young people.
"The changes will improve facilities and opportunities, in particular vocational and bilingual education in the 14 to 19 age range."
Education director, Robert Sully, said he "welcomed" the announcement and was "delighted" that four years of hard work by officers had now "borne fruit".