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Sustainable Communities for Learning

The Sustainable Communities for Learning 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.


More information on the Sustainable Communities for Learning Programme



What are the benefits of the Sustainable Communities for Learning Programme?

  • Creation of school buildings that support modern education, enabling access for all and allowing teachers to focus on educational outcomes

  • Improved 21st Century learning spaces including ICT facilities, specialist classrooms, and outdoor learning environments

  • Providing more opportunities for learning by the expansion of schools, supporting a growing Vale population

  • Supporting a bilingual Wales, with investment in 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

  • New schools are designed and constructed in a response to the climate emergency and Vale of Glamorgan Councils Carbon targets the implementation as a minimum of providing buildings to Net Zero in Operation as a minimum

  • 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

St Richard Gwyn

11 - 16 Faith School 

Description: New build on existing site 

Ysgol Iolo Morgawng

Welsh Medium Primary School

Description: New build on new site

Ysgol Y Deri Expansion

Description: Additional 150 pupil facility to be located on the Cosmeston site to meet future demand for special education
Value: £21.9m
Progress: Construction to commence in 2023

Western Vale Primary Provision

St Nicholas CIW Primary School 

Description:  New build on same site for 126 pupils plus nursery

Value: £7.1m

Progress: In construction 


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 during consultation periods and full information is made 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

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


Frequently asked questions 

  • What factors are the proposals based on? 

    The Sustainable Communities for Learning Programme is aimed at ensuring the standard of learning environments are fit for purpose, that there are sufficient places available for our learners when considering the rapid development and regeneration within the Vale, and that our priorities enable key outcomes within both the Welsh Government’s national strategies and our own local strategies.


    The proposed projects demonstrate the Council’s approach to sustainable development and contributes to The Well Being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015’s five ways of working, centred on improving the social, economic, environmental and cultural well-being. Education plays a key role in contributing to these improvements, with modern learning environments providing a cornerstone to support our learners in achieving the best possible outcomes.


    Our Sustainable Communities for learning planning takes a long-term view of need, taking into consideration issues such future demand based on growth in the area, and Welsh language strategy. We take an integrated and proactive approach to developing proposals; for example in readiness for Band B an advisory board was developed with key stakeholders, and a comprehensive community engagement strategy was devised and implemented for the development of proposals. This collaborative and inclusive approach aligns well with the Well-being Act’s five ways of working.
  • Why do some schools need investment? 

    Some school may need investment more than others. All schools that fall into the school education infrastructure programme are usually a priority for either of the below categories.


    Transforming learning environments and learner experience

    Supporting all learners to be healthy, engaged, enterprising and ethical citizens, ready to play a full part in life and work, within places of learning that are safe, inclusive and free from discrimination and bullying.


    Improving learner experience and well-being in the built environment, supporting the delivery of Curriculum for Wales.


    Providing first-class digital infrastructure to improve learning environments and teaching methods for students of all ages and for the wider community.


    Supporting learners with additional learning needs and those from disadvantaged backgrounds.


    Meeting demand for school places

    Providing efficient and effective educational infrastructure that will meet current and future demand for places.


    Actively supporting the delivery of the authority’s Welsh in Education Strategic Plan.

    Providing the right number of places for the delivery of Welsh- and English-medium education.


    Addressing sufficiency issues where relevant.


    Improving condition and suitability of the education estate

    Reducing backlog maintenance costs for the schools and colleges selected for the programme taking account of the overall estate.


    Removing category D condition and suitability buildings from the estate.


    Reducing category C condition and suitability buildings and improving condition to category A or B condition.


    Developing sustainable learning environments

    Working towards whole-life Net Zero Carbon (NZC) through the programme’s mandated NZC in operation and the embodied carbon targets in line with the Welsh Government’s Carbon Reduction Commitments.


    Delivering sustainable learning environments that invest in biodiversity to enhance the surrounding environment and support active travel.


    Supporting the community

    Community-focused schools, optimising the use of infrastructure and resources to deliver public services working in collaboration with teachers, staff, governing bodies, learners, families and communities. This will include flexibility of our assets so that space and facilities are available outside school hours for extra-curricular, adult and community learning.


    Maximising community benefits and social value through the supply chain.

    Providing greater opportunities for adult learning, allowing community members to learn new skills and develop their confidence.


    Supporting multi-agency partnerships and offering an integrated approach to support learners and the community, including co-location of services.

  • Will Welsh medium schools receive preferential treatment for investment? 

    No. Our Programme includes both Welsh medium and English Medium schools. Our Band A and Band B programme was designed to ensure all schools with different priorities are focussed on in order to meet all of the objectives listed above. Welsh Medium schools are linked with the Welsh-medium education strategy which was conducted by Welsh Government but English medium schools are also selected for development due to other factors.


    The School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Act 2013 places a duty on all Local Authorities in Wales to consult on, produce and review a Welsh in Education Strategic Plan (WESP) that provides the strategic direction for the planning and delivery of Welsh medium and Welsh language education in their locality. The Councils WESP aims to support access to Welsh medium provision, and to increase demand for Welsh Medium education.

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

    When developing schools, they will have an environment reflective of national mission and evolving curriculum. The modern learning environments will integrate with the aims of other Vale of Glamorgan Council departments and Welsh Government priorities in terms of health, equalities, digital competency, resilient ecosystems, active travel, and access to high quality green spaces.


    The Council work closely with the school to form an amended school travel plan and will encourage as many pupils as possible to walk, cycle or scoot to school.  Routes within areas of the school will be identified for walking/cycling improvement on our Active Travel Network Map and higher priority is given on routes to school.
  • Would the construction of the new or refurbished schools result in disruption for staff, pupils, and local residents? 

    The Council has a strong track record in successfully transitioning staff and pupils to new sites. As part of the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s Sustainable Communities for Learning programme, over the last four years we have undertaken seven transitions between existing and new educational facilities on existing and new sites.


    For construction works undertaken on an existing site, consideration and planning is provided to assist with teaching throughout the development programme, specific dates and events are fed into the construction programme to reduce the impact and disruption for pupils and staff, especially around examinations times. The Council also keep local residents informed of key dates for construction progress. During the consultation period we encourage the local community to attend the engagement sessions we hold to keep local residents informed.



Completed projects

  • Cowbridge Primary Provision (phase i) 2023

  • Description: Increasing primary provision in Cowbridge on existing comprehensive site
    Value: £7.3m
    Progress: Completed June 2023

  • Additional Learning Needs Derw Newydd, formally known as ‘Centre for Learning and Well-being' 2023

  • Description: New school and provision in Barry for years 6-11

  • Value: £8.1m

  • Progress: Completed July 2023

  • Ysgol St Baruc, 2023

  •  New Build on new site


  • Welsh Medium Primary


  • Capacity = 420 pupils + nursery

  • Pencoedtre High, 2023


  • New build on existing site


  • English Medium Secondary


  • Capacity = 1250 pupils

  • Llantwit Major Meithrin, 2022


  • 30 pupil Meithrin on existing Ysgol Dewi Sant site 

  • St David’s CiW Primary School, 2022

  • New build on existing site

  • CIW English Medium Primary
  • Capacity = 210 pupils + nursery
  • Southpoint Primary School, 2022

  • New build on new site

  • English Medium Primary

  • Capacity = 210 pupils + nursery

  • Whitmore High, 2022

  • New build on existing site


  • English Medium Secondary


    Capacity = 1100 pupils

  • Ysgol Bro Morgannwg, 2021

  • Refurbishment and expansion on existing site 

  • Welsh Medium Secondary

  • Capacity = 1660 pupils

  • Llantwit Learning Community, 2017

  • Ysgol Gwaun Y Nant and Oak Field Primary, 2015 

  • Ysgol Gymraeg Dewi Sant, 2015 

  • Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Morgannwg (formerly Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Talwg), 2014 

  • Penarth Learning Community, 2014 

  • Cowbridge Comprehensive School, 2010


Learning and Skills Investment Strategy

The Learning & Investment Strategy document consolidates the relevant legislative and policy considerations at a national and local level which direct how the department makes investment decisions. The Strategy has been centred around the Council’s four Corporate Objectives:

  • To work with and for our communities

  • To support learning, employment and sustainable economic growth

  • To support people at home and in their community

  • To respect, enhance and enjoy our environment

The Strategy identifies a series of priority actions within each Corporate Objective to ensure education investments contribute to the Council’s Corporate Plan. These actions can be viewed within the Learning and Skills Investment strategy , Section 3.1.


Additionally, the Strategy sets out the key considerations which inform investment decisions. These are summarised into three main areas which are:

  • School organisation and demand for school places

  • Condition, suitability and sufficiency of school buildings

  • Tackling decarbonisation of school assets and improving ecological value

Further information on the key considerations can be found in the Learning and Skills Investment strategydocument.


The Strategy identifies the different funding sources available to the Council to deliver investment opportunities. The main sources of capital funding are: 

  • Capital receipts

  • Reserves

  • Borrowing

  • Section 106 financial obligations

All investment opportunities should seek to minimise the need for borrowing. This can be achieved through utilising other available funding sources external to the Council such as Welsh Government grant funding. In addition, land and property within the education estate which is not required should be reviewed and sold where appropriate to provide funding for projects in the Learning & Skills Investment programme.


Welsh Government funding has associated requirements linked to education investments. This includes procurement, community benefits, decarbonisation and ecological requirements. Available grants include:

  • Revenue Support Grant

  • Sustainable Communities for Learning Grant

  • Welsh Medium Education Grant

  • ALN Grant (2022/23 is the first year of grant funding and there is currently no guarantee this funding will continue)

  • Community Schools Grant (2022/23 is the first year of grant funding and there is currently no guarantee this funding will continue)

The scale of education investments represents an opportunity to deliver upon multiple Council and Welsh Government objectives. The Strategy document sets out how this will be achieved and the relevant considerations which must inform investment decisions. 


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