Fresh strategy on the use of new school buildings in Wrexham

Reporter:

Matt Sims

HUGE changes to the way new schools are built and used in Wrexham will be considered by leading councillors at a meeting tomorrow.

The process by which the Assembly Government’s 21st Century Schools programme is implemented in coming years across the county will be considered by the local authority’s executive board.

Strategic and performance director Clare Field said a new strategy on how school buildings would feature a “huge change” in the way the authority thought about its education facilities.

The aim of the Welsh Assembly programme, introduced in March, is to introduce a longer term strategic approach to providing investment across the whole school estate in Wales through capital investment.

All local authorities in the country are being asked to look ahead and produce an initial overview of the changes they wish to implement to their school buildings over a 10 year period.

Bids for the first phase of the programme have to be in by October and Wrexham Council is aiming initially to obtain funding for existing projects.

These include the potential amalgamation of Penycae infant and junior schools, the two sites are currently separated by half a mile, and mergers of Ysgol Hafod-y-Wern and Ysgol Gwenfro, in Caia Park.

The second phase though will see a massive strategic outline programme produced to identify steps that can be taken to meet the key aims of the national programme.

Ms Field said: “The Welsh Assembly wants us to plan far more strategically around our school buildings.

“It’s about setting up a project management board looking at school numbers, where our schools are based and where our special needs fit in.

“We are hoping to look at buildings of the future, looking at running community centres there, as well as libraries – a real building for the community that operates 24-hours a day, seven days a week.

“It’s going to be a huge change and it is going to need considerable thought about planning them. It is about bringing it to the attention of members.”

Council leader Aled Roberts said: “We’ve got big issues about our pupil numbers and Welsh medium issues. We’ve got to look at secondary Welsh provision because we have only got one Welsh secondary at the moment.”

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