The Welsh government has officially launched its 21st Century Schools Programme which aims to create centres of learning which both meet the needs of the community as well as provide students with the technology and facilities to aid learning.
The programme was first mooted in 2010 when all Welsh councils had to submit a business case outlining their bids. Speaking at the site of the new Aberdare Community School, in Rhondda Cynon Taf, one of the early start projects to benefit from the funding, first minister Carwyn Jones said he wanted to modernise Wales’ classrooms so that students can access the latest technology and be inspired to experiment, develop skills and learn.
“We are investing £1.4 billion in our schools over the next five years, in what is the first wave of our programme,” he said. “This will build and refurbish over 150 schools and colleges in Wales, so that teachers, students and the community have the modern facilities they deserve.”
Some priority projects have been identified for early start and have already received funding support prior to the launch. Aberdare Community School is one of these.
The £40 million new school building has received £15 million from the 21st Century School funding pot.
The school forms part of an overall £50 million project, including leisure facilities for local residents. It is due to open in September 2015.
Councillor Eudine Hanagan, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s cabinet member for education, skills and lifelong learning, said: “This exciting project to deliver a new school, leisure campus and community facilities is an excellent example of what the 21st Century School programme can achieve.”
Education minister, Huw Lewis added: “We want students to be confident in their abilities and have belief in what they can achieve, regardless of their background and where they live. The 21st Century Schools programme is more than just a building programme, it is creating the right environment for our students, giving them wider choices and introducing them to better technology, so that they become engaged in learning and achieving.
“Working with local authorities, the programme looks at the long-term aims for the community to create a solution which I hope will not only improve pupils’ educational experience but raise standards all across Wales.”