30th July 2021

Llanelli Online News

Llanelli's First For Hyperlocal News

PUPILS at a special school in Llanelli are excited about a new school being built for them but also a little nervous – and they’d also like a rabbit.

The school council at Ysgol Heol Goffa, Llanelli, was consulted by Carmarthenshire Council over its plan to relocate the cramped school to a new site next to Ysgol Pen Rhos.

No firm decisions have been taken yet but the authority is keen to have the new school ready by September 2023.

Its plans have received strong backing, according to the consultation, with 93% of respondents in support.

The new-build proposal found favour with pupils, who are excited about new facilities such as a hydro pool, ski slope and basketball hoops.

A report before the council’s education and children scrutiny committee said pupils would also like a stage to perform on, a sandpit, swings, trees, picnic areas and a rabbit, among other things.

“All pupils were in agreement that the proposal should go through,” it said.

Ysgol Heol Goffa has capacity for 75 pupils, aged three to 19, who have severe learning difficulties or profound and multiple learning difficulties.

But it had 101 youngsters on its roll as of January 2020, and this trend is forecast to continue.

The proposed new-build school just under four miles away would accommodate 120 pupils and have more space and better facilities.

Three-quarters of the construction cost would be funded by the Welsh Government, a quarter by the council, subject to business case approval.

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Addressing the committee, Cllr Glynog Davies, executive board member for education and children, said of the current site: “It’s an old school. We need to improve facilities. It’s very challenging for teachers.”

Cllr Deryk Cundy wanted to know if the proposed new school could be easily extended if demand for places grew. A council officer said this would be the case.

Cllr Emlyn Schiavone said he would like pupils to be able to mix with their mainstream education peers, whatever their abilities.

Cllr Davies replied: “We do consider that at all times.”

The scrutiny committee approved the recommendations in the report, which will now go before the executive board next month. If the new-build proposal gets taken forward, there will be a further opportunity for interested parties to comment, prior to a final decision being taken.

Education inspection body Estyn, which judged Ysgol Heol Goffa in 2017 as excellent for its current performance and excellent for its prospects for improvement, said the council had provided a clear rationale for the proposal.

Estyn’s response to the consultation said: “It is Estyn’s opinion that the proposal is likely to at least maintain or improve the current standards of education and provision for pupils in the area.”

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