Cabinet Member and Welsh Government Minister visit new specialist school
Cllr Rhianon Birch, Vale of Glamorgan Council Cabinet Member for Education, Arts and the Welsh Language, joined Jeremy Miles, Welsh Government Minister for Welsh Language, at a ribbon-cutting event for Derw Newydd, the County’s new specialist school.
They then attended the official opening of Ysgol Gymraeg St Baruc, which has also recently been completed.
Both these schools have been delivered in partnership with Welsh Government through their Sustainable Communities for Learning Programme.
Welsh Government has provided £10 million capital funding to support the projects which provides a new specialist teaching provision and addresses the demand for Welsh medium education for learners in the area.
Derw Newydd will offer bespoke provision for pupils that require support for complex social, emotional and mental health needs.
Managed by Ysgol y Deri, the Authority’s flagship special school, it replaces Y Daith Cowbridge and Y Daith Amelia Farm Trust, increasing overall pupil capacity.
The building, which was formally a Council depot, has a number of innovative features to help pupils gain the most from their time there.
• A full catering kitchen.
• Dining hall with floor to ceiling glazing and a folding wall that can be retracted to create a larger space.
• Food technology room where pupils can learn to prepare meals and gain independence.
• Fitness suite
• Large common room for pupils to have their own designated space.
• One-to-one rooms
On site, there are also three distinct units that provide specialist teaching in Design and Technology, Construction and Mechanics.
The school has a Multiuse Games Area (MUGA) and habitat areas that allow pupils to learn about biodiversity.
Derw Newydd is the latest Council development to be net zero carbon in operation through the building design, making it extremely environmentally friendly.
It uses solar panels with battery storage; air source heat pumps, which extract heat from the atmosphere; has enhanced insulation; and Electric Vehicle charging points.
Cllr Birch said: “This is an ultra-modern school building that will provide some of our most vulnerable pupils with effective support and excellent educational opportunities in a fantastic setting.
“It puts provision that was previously spread across two locations in one place with top of the range facilities available to maximise the learning experience.
“This is the latest project in our Sustainable Communities for Learning programme, which has seen educational sites transformed across the County.
“Pupils are now learning in the state-of-the-art conditions, giving them the best chance of success, while local residents also benefit through access to many of the facilities.
“This project also has the added benefit of bringing a previously empty Council building back into beneficial use.”
The Minister for Education and Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles MS said: “It has been fantastic to visit two new school developments today.
“Schools are much more than bricks and mortar. Well-designed buildings can play their part in tackling the climate emergency, supporting staff and learners with education, as well as delivering high standards and aspirations for all.
“Derw Newydd and Ysgol St Baruc have been supported by our Sustainable Communities for Learning programme and are already providing brilliant learning environments for their pupils.”
After leaving Derw Newydd, Cllr Birch and Mr Miles visited Ysgol St Baruc’s new school building on Barry Waterfront, which pupils have been using since April.
It is the latest example of the Council’s investment in Welsh-medium education following the expansion of Ysgol Bro Morgannwg in 2021. Before that, Ysgol Dewi Sant opened in Llantwit Major, with a new cylch meithrin nursery added last year, for children aged two-and-a-half and above.
Ysgol Gwaun Y Nant, in Barry, also opened an immersion unit offering intensive Welsh courses for those not from Welsh-speaking homes.
A 420-place state-of-the-art facility, it has twice the capacity of St Baruc’s previous Victorian building and a series of low carbon features, including solar panels and onsite battery storage, air source heat pumps, underfloor heating and EV charging points.
There are extensive outdoor spaces, some just off the classrooms, which can be used for teaching, along with hard and soft landscaping for learning and playing. The grounds include a MUGA, two grass pitches, a small training field and habitat areas to develop wildlife and encourage biodiversity.
The investment in Education facilities across the Vale of Glamorgan is significant and these two sites are the most recent examples of the modernisation and transformation of the school estate in recent years.