Work on Islwyn 'super school' to start next year

First published in News

CONSTRUCTION work on a £18.5 million super school in Oakdale could start as early next March.

The outline project plan is being presented to Caerphilly council cabinet this Wednesday and details a timescale of works for the school which is scheduled to open in September, 2016.

On June 11, Caerphilly’s cabinet decided to design and construct the new school using the in-house design team from its building consultancy, but external project managers and cost consultants.

The new secondary school is to be at the Oakdale Plateau 3 in Islwyn West and is to accommodate 900 places, with a 50-place additional learning needs unit.

The existing Pontllanfraith and Oakdale comprehensive schools will close in place of the new ‘super school’ which hopes to tackle the problem of surplus places in the area.

This problem was highlighted to the council by Estyn in 2012 following an inspection when the education and training inspectorate for Wales said that the authority needed to “take urgent action to reduce surplus capacity in schools generally and secondary schools in particular”.

Between now and mid-October 2014, external consultants will validate the in-house design and develop the cost plan.

It is envisaged the construction contractor will be appointed in mid-October.

It is hoped a construction contract could be signed by the middle of February 2015 with construction commencing in March 2015.

All site surveys and investigations are due to be completed by next month.

Consultation on the design of the school began on June 26, with meetings with school staff organised before the end of the summer.

Two consultation surveys on the proposals – to staff and pupils – have also been distributed and returned.

The outcome of the consultation will be analysed during August 2014.

Under the proposals, sixth-form provision for the new school and Blackwood Comprehensive – the only other remaining secondary school in the Islwyn West area – will continue to be provided by Cross Keys College.

Approval of the planning submission design is required by October 24.

This will enable the planning application to be submitted by the end of that month.

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