THE leader of Newport council has called for more detail on the cost of a possible new Welsh-medium school in the grounds of Duffryn High.
Plans for a Newport solution to help solve a looming crisis in secondary places are at an early stage, with further investigations to take place.
Yesterday cabinet members of the Labour-run Newport council ordered more work from officers on the proposal, which if it went ahead would see Duffryn High School remodelled, refurbished and extended so a new Welsh-medium school can start there.
At a cabinet meeting council leader Bob Bright asked James Harris, chief education officer, how quickly the cabinet would be able to see the “financial profile” of the project.
Mr Harris said he couldn’t give a precise timescale: “I would anticipate certainly within the next two months.”
Cllr Bright pressed further and asked what stage the council was at with costings, and Mr Harris said there wasn’t a “tight specification”.
The leader said he couldn’t see the finances coming out in two months without a detailed specification.
“It’s a good news story. We do need to have some firmed up ideas of what it’s going to cost,” Cllr Bright said.
“Let’s not start hares running if at the end of the day we can’t find the finance.”
Cabinet agreed for the further development of the proposal to be included in a strategic outline case to be submitted to the Welsh Government.
The plans would need to be weighed up alongside other proposals for the future of Welsh-medium secondary education in Gwent.
Currently children from Welsh-language schools outside Torfaen face being unable to attend the Welsh-medium secondary school, Ysgol Gyfun Gwynllyw in Pontypool, in 2016 when it will be over-subscribed.
The school currently serves pupils from Blaenau Gwent, Monmouthshire, Torfaen and Newport.
Duffryn High School had been part of a programme to rebuild three secondary schools in Newport. While the Bettws and Hartridge projects were completed, the economic crisis appears to have scuppered the Duffryn rebuild.
Jon Wilson, head teacher of Duffryn High, said he was pleased at the proposals: “The school is very realistic as to the economic crisis at the moment. We are very happy to work with Newport City Council to benefit from a refurbishment and extension.”
He said the school was originally part of the three school rebuild plan: “The downturn meant that although the commitment was there, the money wasn’t there to rebuild it.”