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21st Century SchoolsVale 21stC Schools Logo with Strap (Transparent)

The 21st Century Schools Programme is a long term strategic investment in educational estate throughout Wales.


It is a unique collaboration between Welsh Government, the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA), local authorities, colleges and diocesan authorities. Further details of the 21st Century School Programme can be found through the 21st Century Schools and Welsh Government websites.

Read our flyer

Read our 2020 highlights

What are the benefits of the 21st Century Schools Programme?

  • Fit for purpose sites, enabling access for all and allowing teachers to focus on maximising educational outcomes. Improved 21st Century learning spaces; which would include ICT facilities, specialist classrooms, and outdoor learning facilities.

  • Providing more opportunities for learning by the creation and expansion of schools, supporting a growing Vale population. Supporting a bilingual Wales, with investment going into both Welsh and English medium educational facilities. 

  • New schools are designed to meet BREEAM Excellent standard, which includes delivering energy efficient buildings, enhancing habitats for wildlife, and reducing the carbon cost of construction.

  • Direct income opportunities for schools through hiring out facilities to the community. Lower maintenance costs from new and refurbished buildings.

  • Pupils and the wider community will be able to access high quality green spaces, recreational and performance facilities, and meeting rooms.

  • Opportunities for children and community groups to learn about construction, with work placements for new entrants and in-kind donations to the voluntary sector as part of the community benefits requirements placed upon contractors.

  • Build programme to utilise local supply chains and supports small businesses where possible.

Proposed and upcoming projects within the Vale of Glamorgan:

Barry Secondary Learning Communities

Whitmore High School

Description: New build on the same site.
Value: £30.5m
Progress: Construction started August 2019

Pencoedtre High School

Description: New build on the same site.
Value: £34.8m
Progress: Construction started May 2020

Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Morgannwg

Description: Expansion from 1361 to 1660 pupils (including primary and 6th form). Refurbishment of current buildings and new extension.
Value: £21.5m
Progress: Construction started August 2019


Ysgol Sant Baruc 

Description: Expansion from 210 to 420 pupils. New build on Barry Waterfront site (<1 mile from current location).

Value: £7.895m

Progress: Proposal approved by Cabinet July 2019

Western Vale Primary Provision

Llancarfan Primary School

Description: New build on Rhoose site.

Value: £5.04m

Progress: Construction started November 2020

St David's CIW Primary School 

Description: Expansion from 140 to 210 pupils. New build on same site.

Value: £4.435m

Progress: Construction started November 2020

St Nicholas CIW Primary School 

Description: Expansion from 126 to 210 pupils. Increase age range from 4-11 to 3-11. New build on same site.

Value: £5.01m

Progress: Proposal approved by Cabinet September 2019


Cowbridge Primary Provision (phase i)

Description: Increasing primary provision in Cowbridge.

Value: £5m

Progress: Proposal approved by Cabinet 22 March 2021

Additional Learning Needs

Centre for Learning and Well-being and Specialist Resource Base at Gladstone Primary

Description: New school and provision.
Value: £4.4m
Progress: Proposal approved by Cabinet 8 February 2021

Whitmore High School Specialist Resource Base

Description: New provision.
Value: £30.5m (included within Whitmore High School new build works)
Progress: Proposal approved by Cabinet 8 March 2021

Ysgol Y Deri Expansion

Description: Currently exploring options to increase capacity.
Value: £11m
Progress: Proposal approved by Cabinet 26 April 2021


Penarth Nursery Provision

Description: Reconfigure nursery provision in Penarth

Progress: Consultation 20 September - 5 November 2021

Penarth Provision 

Description: New school and nursery, subject to Cosmeston development. 

Value: £5.5m


3 - 16 Faith School 

Description: New build 3 – 16 Faith School.

Value: £31.9m

Progress: MIM Project or Band C


Further information about the Council’s Band B Projects can be found in the Strategic Outline Programme.

How are people involved in the programme? 

  • Pupils, teachers, parents, governors, and the wider community are encouraged to engage in the school consultation process. Drop-in sessions are available to answer public queries at this stage and full information about the proposal will be available to view online or by hardcopy on request.

  • Pupils, teachers, and governors are actively involved in the planning process and their needs, along with the needs of future learners, help to shape the school design.

  • Schools are able conduct engaging and exciting lessons around site visits to help pupils learn about the construction process and understand the benefits of their new facilities. 

  • As part of the programme to refurbish and build new schools, the construction contractors will collaborate with third and public sector projects to deliver a range of community benefits. If your project involves improving outcomes for people, the environment, and/or the local economy, you may be eligible to benefit from the 21st Century Schools community benefits scheme.

  • Once the new school is complete, user surveys are undertaken to see how well the building is performing on a practical level.

Frequently asked questions: 

  • Will the proposed schools take funding away from other services?

    The 21st Century Schools programme is part-funded by Welsh Government who provide either 65% funding for maintained schools, 75% funding ALN and PRU schools, or 85% funding for Faith schools (subject to approval in each case). Where possible, the remaining funding comes from Section 106 agreements and not directly from the Council. This is where house developers agree to invest in local services or facilities in return for permission to build new estates. These agreements are usually specific to certain areas or types of spending, meaning the Council must spend the money on capital projects and cannot put this into toping up other services. This means the investment in new schools is not taking away funding from existing schools or other public services. 



  • Have the decisions been made before the proposals are consulted on? 

    Any proposed changes to schools are subject to the most recent School Organisation Code (currently 2018 version). This document informs Councils what educational aspects of the proposal they must publically consult on; for instance, changes to type of school, site transfer over 1 mile, or changes to pupil numbers over 25%. The consultation period provides stakeholders with an opportunity to feedback on the proposal. During the consultation process stakeholder engagement sessions are held with pupils, parents, teachers, governors, and community members to answer queries and hear their views informally.

    The written responses are then presented to the Council’s Cabinet (or the governing body in the case of Voluntary Aided schools) who vote on the proposal weighing the educational risks and merits. The proposal can be approved or rejected at this stage based on stakeholder feedback. If Cabinet approve the proposal then a Statutory Notice is issued, which the public can submit objections to. The objections are brought to Cabinet who then make the final decision whether to approve or reject the proposal. This means proposals are not pre-determined as there are multiple stages where proposals can be rejected on valid educational grounds. More information about the statutory consultation process can be found from this guide

  • What factors are the proposals based on? 

    The proposals are not formed or determined by any one person, rather they are investigated by multiple departments within the Council and subject to Cabinet scrutiny. The proposals are based on multiple factors; such as suitability of educational facilities, trends in admissions to particular schools, building condition surveys, population trends, legislative changes, and financial viability. Multiple options are considered from examining the collected data and a preferred proposal is then submitted to Cabinet, along with alternatives, for approval to consultation stage. The school and other relevant stakeholders are also engaged at pre-consultation stage to understand the practicalities of the current situation and how education may be affected by the proposed options. This means the proposals are based on best available robust evidence, the needs of the school, and the considerations of multiple Council departments before they are then opened to public feedback. 

  • Why do some schools need investment?   

    Some schools require refurbishment, expansion, or new buildings either on the same site or on a nearby site. This can be due to a number of factors; including increased demand for places, lack of facilities within current building/s, or aging building/s which are inefficient in terms of energy or do not meet modern building regulation standards. If these schools were to continue without 21st Century Schools investment then it may be detrimental to the children’s health or learning. The high maintenance costs of some schools would also be reduced by upgrading the buildings, meaning more funding can be put directly into supporting learning.

    “Legacy planning” is designed with schools that are refurbished or rebuilt to help ease the transition to the new facilities and maintain a connection to the school’s history. For instance, if there are items of particular significance to pupils or staff then these can be saved and integrated within the new classrooms. This means future pupils and the wider community will benefit from 21st Century facilities whilst preserving the meaningful elements of school.  

  • Will Welsh medium schools receive preferential treatment for investment? 

    English and Welsh medium schools have received or will receive investment in both Band A and Band B of the programme. One of the factors which must be considered in choosing where to invest is future demand for school places. There is a growing Vale of Glamorgan wide trend of parents choosing to send their children to Welsh medium schools (6.7% increase since 1998) and so a number of Welsh medium primary and secondary schools are being expanded in Band B. However, this is not to the detriment of English medium schools or parents wishing to send their children to these schools. Capacity is available at both English and Welsh medium schools if spaces are applied for at the appropriate times (i.e. first preference school spaces will not be held for families moving into the area mid-year). Admissions are annually reviewed and language demand is just one factor in choosing which schools to invest in.

    The strategic direction of the Vale of Glamorgan and the Welsh Government supports a strong future for a bilingual Wales, and the 21st Century schools programme is helping to provide more opportunities for both English and Welsh medium education to thrive. The vast majority of parents who send their children to Welsh medium schools in the Vale don’t speak Welsh themselves. This is why Welsh medium schools in the Vale of Glamorgan always communicate with parents in both Welsh and English. More information can be found from the Being Bilingual booklet

  • How would potential transport implications be considered as part of the proposals? 

    The Council’s 21st Century Schools Team would be responsible for the build process. A contractor would be appointed and a full transport assessment would be undertaken as part of the design process; including public and active transport opportunities. Any implications identified would be factored into the design of the new building and submitted as part of the planning application. 

  • Would the construction of the new or refurbished schools result in disruption for staff, pupils, and local residents? 

    In proposals where the new school building is built on the existing or nearby sites, the school would work closely with the Council’s 21st Century Schools Team to limit disruption through restricting delivery times and working collaboratively with the site manager. Multiple factors are considered such as ensuring pupils have access to sufficient outside space and that the curriculum is not compromised. The school would work closely with the construction team to ensure pupils are involved throughout the process and the curriculum is enhanced through regular site visits.  


Completed Projects:

  • Llantwit Learning Community, 2017 

    Type: English medium comprehensive (Llantwit Major) and English medium primary school (Ysgol Y Ddraig)

    Capacity: 1050 pupils (Llantwit Major) and 420 pupils (Ysgol Y Ddraig)

    Investment: £20.7 million

    Community Benefits: The project was able to deliver 1,500 training weeks and a local spend of £13.7m was achieved. In addition the project was successful in contributing a community investment of £9,387 by providing curriculum support to local schools.

    Llantwit-Major-Learning-Community-Project-credit-HLM  YYD2  


  • Ysgol Gwaun Y Nant and Oak Field Primary, 2015  

    Type: Welsh medium primary (Ysgol Gwaun Y Nant) and English medium primary (Oak Field)
    Capacity: 420 pupils (Ysgol Gwaun Y Nant) and 210 pupils (Oak Field)
    Investment: £3.79 million
    Community Benefits: The project was able to deliver 258 training weeks, 35 apprentices have worked on the project, and a local spend of £950,000 was achieved. In addition the project was successful in contributing a community investment of £1,170 by providing curriculum support to local schools. 

    Gwaun Y Nant - Outside 2b  Oak Field - Hall 2
  • Ysgol Gymraeg Dewi Sant, 2015 

    Type: Welsh medium primary (Ysgol Gymraeg Dewi Sant)

    Capacity: 210 pupils

    Investment: £3.04 million

    Community Benefits: The project was able to deliver 180 training weeks, 26 apprentices have worked on the project, and a local spend of £400,000 was achieved. In addition the project was successful in contributing a community investment of £1,730 through curriculum support to local schools.

    21stC Schools - Dewi Sant (hall2)   21stC Schools - Dewi Sant (classroom2)
  • Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Morgannwg (formerly Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Talwg), 2014 

    Type: Welsh medium primary 
    Capacity: 210 pupils
    Investment: £2.77 million
    Community Benefits: The project resulted in 146 new entrant weeks recorded, 102 weeks of that relating to persons previously unemployed working on the site, and 86% of project spend was retained within Wales. The project also involved students from Cardiff and the Vale College as well as working closely with local community organisations.


     Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Morgannwg Primary Building Indoor Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Morgannwg Primary Building Exterior
  • Penarth Learning Community, 2014 

    Type: English medium comprehensive (St Cyres) and Special school (Ysgol Y Deri)

    Capacity: 1285 pupils

    Investment: £50.34 million

    Community Benefits: The project enabled 184 new entrants to construction, 83 apprentices and trainees were employed on the project, and £32m of the project spend was retained within Wales. The project reinvested around 80% of construction costs back into the local economy.

     Penarth Learning Centre  St Cyres - Hall 3
  • Cowbridge Comprehensive School, 2010 

    Type: English medium comprehensive 
    Capacity: 1586 pupils
    Investment: £21.5 million

    Cowbridge-Comprehensive - hall Cowbridge-Comprehensive - outside




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