The Council’s Leader has officially opened a new satellite base for Maesgwyn Special School at Coleg y Cymoedd’s Aberdare Campus, to strengthen ties between the school and the college for the benefit of pupils.
Councillor Andrew Morgan opened the learning facility, located at the former Aberdare railway station building, during a special event on Tuesday, April 17. The building has been revitalised as part of Coleg y Cymoedd’s state-of-the-art £20m development in Robertstown, which opened to learners in September 2017, replacing its former Cwmdare Campus.
Post-16 pupils from Maesgwyn Special School attended the opening event, alongside the Council’s Cabinet Member for Education and Lifelong Learning Councillor Joy Rosser, and Coleg y Cymoedd Principal Judith Evans.
The new provision will provide Maeswgyn Special School, based in Cwmdare, with a base for post-16 learners. It will build upon the existing relationship between the school and college, which has seen Maesgwyn Special School pupils access college courses over a number of years.
The new arrangement will also provide learners with an important insight into all aspects of college life – including access to college taster sessions so they can sample vocational opportunities with a view to pursuing courses in the future. It will also provide access to a variety of ‘link’ courses for discrete groups of learners, and the BOOST extra-curricular programme.
Councillor Morgan said: “It was a pleasure to open Maesgwyn Special School’s new classroom at the new Coleg y Cymoedd Campus in Aberdare which, coupled with the state-of-the-art Aberdare Community School as part of the Council’s investment in Education and Leisure, provides young people in Aberdare with facilities unrivalled anywhere across the Valleys.
“The new satellite base will provide Maesgwyn Special School pupils with more than just a new place to learn, providing them with access to wider college facilities, additional vocational opportunities and social interaction with a wider range of peers. Ultimately, it will allow the Council to improve the planning and delivery of support for young people with additional learning needs, and ensure a more seamless transition into college from special school.”
Councillor Rosser added: “This initiative was developed in preparation for new Additional Learning Needs Reforms, and replicates another post-16 satellite provision established three years ago in Rhondda through a partnership between the Council, Ysgol Hen Felin and Coleg y Cymoedd’s Ystrad Campus.
“The scheme in Aberdare will introduce an even more inclusive approach to Maesgwyn’s current relationship with Coleg y Cymoedd, which goes back a number of years. It will broaden pupils’ access to a range of educational opportunities and enable them to see college as a more viable proposition once they leave school – giving pupils the best chance of achieving success.
“More and more pupils in Rhondda Cynon Taf are benefitting from the very latest school facilities, as the Council’s significant Education investment through #RCTinvest continues. In the 2018/19 academic year, a joint £85m investment with the Welsh Government will see new 21st Century Schools facilities delivered in Tonyrefail, Porth, Cymmer, Ferndale, Tonypandy and Treorchy – alongside a new £7.2m school for Cwmaman.”
Judith Evans, principal at Coleg y Cymoedd said: “We stand to ensure that all learners in the communities we serve have access to highest quality education provisions and state-of-the-art facilities. Collaboration with our neighboring schools is vital to helping us to deliver on our mission to provide young people with every opportunity to develop themselves and access the career pathways they deserve.
“Our Aberdare Campus community is excited to welcome Maesgwyn Special School to our new classroom facilities, and we look forward to working together on this next phase of our existing and longstanding relationship. In doing so we are certain that this partnership will enable pupils to have access to college level equipment and teaching resources, gain valuable insights into college life, and secure a trusted pathway into further education one they leave school.”