AM opens Ebbw Vale's ‘inspirational’ Learning Zone
A MULTI-million-pound college set to drive up education standards in Blaenau Gwent was officially opened yesterday.
The area’s Assembly Member, Alun Davies, led the celebrations at the Learning Zone at The Works, on the former steelmaking site, where music students, among the first to study there, performed.
He later unveiled a commemorative plaque before guests toured the £33.5 million campus, which boasts a range of specialist facilities for construction, science, hairdressing and beauty therapy, as well as performance areas, IT suites and a roof garden.
Wales’ first minister, Carwyn Jones, said it would give the people of Blaenau Gwent new opportunities to gain the qualifications and skills they need to equip themselves for the future.
He said: “It’s not just for young people, although they will undoubtedly benefit from the new equipment and chances that this investment brings, but is also a resource for the wider community.
“I hope that the local community feels a sense of ownership of the Learning Zone and uses this asset to its potential by taking up the full range of learning opportunities that it offers.”
The facility is a unique partnership between Coleg Gwent, Blaenau Gwent Council and the University of Wales, Newport, to provide a new post-16 education centre. Funded by the Welsh Government and the European Regional Development Fund, it offers full and part-time courses, including higher education courses through the Universities Heads of the Valleys Institute and Newport’s university.
It is environmenally friendly and has a number of green features, including rainwater harvesting, daylight sensing and tripleglazing.
Coleg Gwent principal Jim Bennett, said the campus was a great asset to the area, while council leader Hedley McCarthy said it was a “tremendous environment for learning”.
Students are equally thrilled with their new home. Ben Pope, 17, of Glyncoed, who is studying media, said the building inspired creativity, while Lauren Scrivens, 18, from Cwmbran, praised its “brilliant resources”.