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Education

Neath Port Talbot ‘21st Century School’ set to inspire future generations

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The latest addition to Neath Port Talbot Council’s 21st Century Schools programme – the £27 million rebuild of Cefn Saeson Comprehensive School in Neath – is set to further enhance pupils learning experience, thanks to inspiring furniture design and unique custom wall graphics, supplied by local firm Ministry Group.

Construction of the new two-storey, 97,000 square foot building was completed alongside the existing school in June 2021, with demolition of the old building currently underway.

The school’s 900 pupils will now benefit from a new building and 48 state-of-the art classrooms, including creative workspaces and SEND facilities for students with additional learning needs.

Ministry Group, comprising of Ministry of Furniture and Ministry of Graphics, was appointed to undertake all loose furniture modelling, specification, supply and installation at the school by main building contractor, Morgan Sindall Construction.

Working closely with the school’s senior leadership team and Neath Port Talbot Council, the Neath-based furniture and design specialists planned all loose furniture for the school to comply with BIM level 2 standards.

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As a result, the new building now benefits from ultra-modern furniture and unique interior artwork, to go along with its cutting-edge facilities and technology.

Bespoke wall and ceiling graphics at the new Cefn Saeson school

The bespoke wall and ceiling graphics – which includes student artwork printed directly onto ceiling tiles – is designed to complement the specially designed furniture and create an inspiring working and learning environment for the school’s occupants.

Research has shown that well-designed, colourful classrooms can boost learning progress by 16% in core subjects. Further studies show that colourful furniture and wall art can positively effect students’ moods and inspire creativity.

As a further part of its work with Cefn Saeson Comprehensive, Ministry Group also designed new branding for the school which features on the uniform, external building signage, stationery and branded furniture.

A glimpse of the interior of the new Cefn Saeson school

The 21st Century Schools programme is a collaboration between the Welsh Government and local councils in Wales. It is a significant, long-term and strategic capital investment programme with the aim of creating a generation of 21st Century Schools across the country. The total 21st Century Schools programme spend to date in Neath Port Talbot’s school estate has now reached £150m – a massive investment in Neath Port Talbot’s future generations, and the biggest of any council in Wales outside of Cardiff.

Councillor Peter Rees, Cabinet Member for Education, Skills and Culture, Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council, said: “Cefn Saeson is the latest 21st Century Schools building project the council has commissioned with the aim of giving our young people the best and most up to date educational facilities the council can possibly provide them with. We were delighted Morgan Sindall appointed a local, Neath based furniture supplier with excellent social aims and community benefits.”

Stuart Moyse, Deputy Headteacher at Cefn Saeson Comprehensive School, commented: “We are so pleased with the completed school. Ministry really added value with their furniture knowledge and graphics expertise. The printed ceiling tiles were a unique addition which have been very well received. The Graphics team worked closely with our teaching staff to ensure the wall art met expectations and they kept us up to date throughout the project.”

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Environment

Professor becomes clean air champion for Wales

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A Swansea University expert has been named as one of the UK’s latest clean air champions.

Paul Lewis, Professor Emeritus at Swansea University Medical School, has a research background in the environmental impacts on respiratory health.

He is an expert member on the Welsh Government Clean Air Advisory Panel, helping advise on fine-particulate targets in readiness for a new Clean Air Act in Wales. 

He is also a member of the Wales Air Quality Direction Independent Review Panel and the Domestic Solid Fuel Burning in Wales, Task and Finish Group. 

Professor Lewis’s new role will see him joining the existing national Clean Air Champions  UKRI Strategic Priorities Fund (SPF) Clean Air Programme. 

Professor Lewis said he was delighted at his appointment: “The role will allow me to engage with key stakeholders from academia, industry, government, the NHS and third sector right across Wales to help develop new solutions and policies to reduce air pollution and the impacts on our health and wellbeing.” 

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The Clean Air Programme is a £42.5 million investment that supports high quality research and innovation to develop practical solutions for today’s air quality issues and equip the UK to proactively tackle future air quality challenges. 

Professor Lewis and his fellow champions act as the central point for air quality research in their respective regions and will work to increase collaboration and impact across and beyond the programme. 

They will engage with researchers funded by the Clean Air Programme to explore ways of promoting knowledge exchange with relevant research users such as local businesses, industry health professionals, local authorities and the public. 

They will also gather intelligence on new local research, policy, and industry developments and contribute new ideas to enhance the impact of the programme.

(Lead image: Swansea University)

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Education

Pupils create lasting legacy ahead of move to new school

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Pupils counting down the weeks until they can move into their new school building have created a lasting legacy to let children in the future know what school life is like today.

The children at Ysgol Gymraeg Tan-y-lan have worked with staff to gather items for a time capsule that has been buried on the site of the new £9.9m build in Clase.

The development is nearing completion and they are due to move from their existing site at Tan-y-lan Terrace in Morriston to their new home in Clase after the Christmas holiday break.

Pupils joined Swansea Council Leader Rob Stewart, Cabinet member for Education Improvement Robert Smith and other senior councillors at the new site to bury the time capsule.

It includes photos and recordings of performances along with items of news and information that will give a flavour of school life in 2021.

The new build is jointly funded by Swansea Council and the Welsh Government under the 21st Century Schools and Colleges Programme and is part of a £170m investment in new and improved schools in Swansea which is the largest such investment in the city’s history.

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Cllr Smith said: “The new school building and facilities are absolutely first class and I can see how excited the staff and children are about moving into their new home.

“This will give them the very best surroundings in which to work and is very different to the old outdated accommodation of their current buildings.

“The contractors Kier have done an amazing job in building this school while working safely during the pandemic and I can’t wait to see the pupils settle in. I’m really looking forward to visiting them again when it opens.”

The new build at Hill View Crescent has an increased capacity and a nursery that will help meet additional demand for Welsh medium education in the future.

YGG Tan-y-lan headteacher Berian Jones said pupils and staff were very excited about the move and said they had all worked together to create the time capsule.

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He added: “Pupils from each year group were involved in preparing USB’s filled with examples of activities, photos and performances that have been placed in the capsule.

“We have also collected items that represent the school and our ‘cynefin’ habitat – we also included items and information from current time that explain our current situation and current events in history.”

(Lead image: Swansea Council)

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Carmarthenshire

New Year start date for new state-of-the-art Pembrey primary school

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Work will get underway to build a state-of-the-art primary school in Pembrey in the new year.

Carmarthenshire County Council has unveiled plans for its latest new school, part of its multi-million pound Modernising Education Programme, jointly funded by Welsh Government through its 21st Century Schools initiative.

The new modern purpose-built £8.25million primary school will be built next to the existing school site on Ashburnham Road.

On completion it will provide high-quality teaching facilities for 270 primary pupils and 30 nursery pupils.

It will also incorporate a Flying Start facility for younger children, located in a mobile classroom on the current school site.

The school has been designed by Carmarthenshire County Council’s own architects and the work will be carried out by Carmarthenshire-based TRJ Construction Ltd, selected from the South West Wales Regional Contractors Framework.

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Headteacher Helen Jacob said: “Teaching staff, pupils and families are excited and looking forward to seeing our new school come to life. Our children will benefit from seeing every phase of their new school being built right alongside us – it has been designed to enhance learning and teaching and it is very much deserved.”

Artist’s impression of the new Primary School in Pembrey (Image: Carmarthenshire Council)

Cllr Glynog Davies, Cabinet Member for Education and Children’s Services, added: “We are proud to be delivering yet another fantastic new school in Carmarthenshire as part of our Modernising Education Programme.

“The new Ysgol Pen-bre will provide an excellent learning and teaching environment and will also benefit the local community, with many features built into the design that can be used by local people when it opens.

“We look forward to seeing construction start in January.”

By the end of the 2020/21 financial year, Carmarthenshire County Council will have invested £295million in transforming its network of nursery, primary and secondary schools.

Since the programme was launched, 12 new primary schools and two new secondary schools have been built and a number of other schools have been remodelled and refurbished to provide top-class learning and community facilities.

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(Lead image: Carmarthenshire Council)

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