2:07pm Monday 17th February 2014
A NEW secondary school in the Islwyn area is expected to be given the green light at a Caerphilly council cabinet meeting this week.
The creation of a new school would mean the closure of the existing Pontllanfraith and Oakdale Comprehensives, with a brand new school to be built on the Oakdale Plateau 3 site, leaving Blackwood Comprehensive as the only other secondary school in the Islwyn West area. The proposed new school, which has a planned completion date of September 2016, is to be designed with a capacity of 900 pupils with an additional provision for special needs of around 50 pupils.
Caerphilly council’s cabinet will meet on Wednesday and a decision will be made whether to approve the recommendation to publish a statutory notice.
It is also proposed that catchment areas would change in order to ensure both schools would be similar in terms of the number of pupils attending both.
The proposed catchment area changes will make Libanus and Markham Primary Schools feeder schools to Blackwood Comprehensive rather than Pontllanfraith Comprehensive. Consultations took place in January to get the views of those most affected by the proposed shake-up, which comes as part of the Welsh Government’s 21st Century Schools programme.
Under the proposals, sixth-form provision for Blackwood Comprehensive and the new school will continue to be provided by Cross Keys College. The council has secured funding of £20 million to deliver the project, with a confirmation of actual costs expected to be presented to cabinet at a later date.
The council says the proposal will help reduce the amount of surplus places in the area from 22.1 per cent to 16.9 per cent, after the Welsh Government urged all local authorities to reduce unwanted surplus places.
Following an inspection in 2012, Caerphilly council was told by Estyn, the education and training inspectorate for Wales, that the authority needed to “take urgent action to reduce surplus capacity in schools generally and secondary schools in particular”.
If approved by the cabinet, the statutory notice must stand for a minimum of 28 days, and during that period members of the public may register objections. Caerphilly council must consider all objections before deciding whether to implement the proposal at a full council meeting at a later date.
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