A special ceremony has been held to mark the start of construction work on the £40 million new “super-school” planned for Port Talbot.
On Friday, Welsh Education Minister Huw Lewis attended a tree planting ceremony at the site of the new school, which will accommodate 1,500 pupils aged three to 16, on Western Avenue playing fields adjacent to Seaway Parade in Sandfields.
The school – Ysgol Newydd (Bae Baglan) – will replace Cwrt Sart Community School, Glanafan Comprehensive School, Sandfields Comprehensive School and Traethmelyn Primary School. It is the biggest single investment in school infrastructure in the history of Neath Port Talbot.
The project is backed by a 50 per cent grant from the Welsh Government’s 21st Century Schools Programme, with the remaining 50 per cent coming from the council.
Main contractor for the new school, which is due to open in September 2016, is Bouygues UK.
Local people will be able to access parts of the school, including the sports facilities, performance spaces, meeting rooms, conference and recreation facilities.
The new build is one of seven major projects in Neath Port Talbot’s 21st Century Schools’ Programme, costed at £100 million-plus, which will be jointly delivered by the council and Welsh Government between 2014 and 2019.
According to the Council, one of the key priorities is to make the most of investment and major construction projects to maximise benefits to local people, communities and businesses.
Council leader Ali Thomas said: “Despite the budget pressures we face, the investment in this new school demonstrates our commitment to education and providing the best possible opportunities for our young people.
“Working in partnership with the Welsh Government, we are creating the best environment for teaching and learning to help us improve standards, making sure the right schools are in the right place, and that they are fit for 21st Century learners.”
Mr Lewis said: “It was great to attend the tree planting ceremony for what is a really significant investment in the futures of all of the pupils that will attend the new school in Baglan Bay. I’d like to thank everyone for the warm welcome they gave me.
“When we invest in major capital projects like this, we are not only investing in the school and the futures of young people but also in local communities. This construction will provide vital training and employment opportunities which will benefit the local economy.”