Cardiff's School Organisation Programme Update

Cardiff's School Organisation Programme Update

Cardiff Council's Cabinet will be updated on the city's School Organisation Programme when it meets on Thursday 19, March 2020.

A report will update Members on the progress made in the four main areas to develop and improve Cardiff's school estate. It includes;

  • delivery of new provision under the 21st Century Schools programme
  • delivery of provision as part of the Local Development Plan (LDP)
  • enhanced asset maintenance programme in relation to existing school sites
  • ICT investment in all existing schools

The 21stCentury Schools Programme

The 21stCentury Schools Programme is being funded by Cardiff Council and Welsh Government.

The initial Band A phase of the 21st Century Schools programme has seen £164 million investment to expand the number of English and Welsh medium school places. This has included two new high schools; Eastern High in collaboration with Cardiff & Vale College on the Eastern Community Campus in Trowbridge, and Cardiff West Community High School in Caerau, as well as six primary schools;Gabalfa Primary School, Howardian Primary School, Ysgol Gymraeg Glan Ceubal and Ysgol Gymraeg, Ysgol Hamardryad and Howardian Primary School.

The Band A investment has led to significant education improvement in the schools involved, with the proportion of Estyn rated Green schools in the programme rising from 34.78% to 70.3%.

Following the Cabinet's approval of the proposed vision for the next phase of the 21stCentury Schools programme, Band B in December 2017, a strategy was devised to address sufficiency of places available, condition of the school buildings and suitability of the environment for teaching and prioritise existing schools in Cardiff.

The Band B 21stCentury Schools Programme investment totals £284m. In addition to that, £40million over a 5-year period has been committed to education asset renewal, which will improve the condition and suitability of existing provision.

Progress has been made on the 21st Century Schools Band B programme at St Mary the Virgin CIW Primary School, Fitzalan High School, and the linked schemes for Woodlands School, Riverbank School and Cantonian High School. Other identified Band B projects will progress within the programme.

The Council has also agreed in principle to deliver Willows High School and Cathays High School through mutual investment model (MIM).  This is a national scheme that has been developed to borrow funds via the private sector to design and build the school, and maintain the building fabric over a 25 year period. Welsh Government is currently procuring a private sector partner to fund the projects and provide partnering services. 

The Local Development Plan (LDP) 

The LDP sets outthe infrastructure required to facilitate and sustain the city's growth up to 2026. This includes a number of new housing sites, such as Plasdwr in the North West of the city and St Ederyns in the North East of the city, whichwill generate significant increases in the demand for school places.

Developers are required toprovide facilities and infrastructure to mitigate the impact of the development through a Section 106 agreement. Progress has beenmade on the first two projects; a 1FE primary school at St Edeyrn's and a 2FE primary schoolto serve the early phases of the Plasdŵr development, spanning parts of Creigiau, St Fagans, Radyr, Morganstown and Fairwater.

The Plasdwr school will be adual stream, organised as one-form of entry offering Welsh-medium education and one-form of entry offering English-medium places, with significantly greater use of the Welsh-language compared with a standard English-medium school, as approved bythe Cabinet in January 2020.

Cabinet Member for Education, Employment and Skills, Cllr Sarah Merry said: "The new dual stream school will provide anew and exciting opportunity in how the Welsh language is taught to pupils in an English-medium school.

"Based on success in the Basque region of Spain, the model isan innovative variation on the traditional dual-stream primary school provision and will see a significantly greater focus on Welsh teaching within the English medium stream, supporting our aspirations to grow the Welsh language that we have set out in our bilingual strategy."

Education asset renewal

Cardiff Council has responsibility for 128 school properties and following assessment, many sites were in need of upgrade. The city also required more places for pupils with additional learning needs (ALN) including autism spectrum conditions, complex learning needs and behaviour emotional and social needs.

Cabinet Member for Education, Employment and Skills, Cllr Sarah Merry said: "In recent years we have undoubtedly improved Cardiff's education estate, not only having a positive impact on pupils but also the communities who have benefited from new amenities in their local area.

"The vision outlined in Cardiff 2030, is for all children and young people in Cardiff to experience high quality education and develop the knowledge, skills and attributes that enable them to become personally successful, economically productive and globally engaged citizens.

"As investment and development continues, we will ensure that whether choosing Welsh-medium or English-medium education, our new schools will deliver high quality education, providing opportunities for children to access excellent school facilities, in a learning environment fit for the 21stCentury.

"We will also make sure that new school buildingswill be environmentally responsible, resource efficient, and built with full life-cycle awareness of their energy and carbon impact."

The report recommends Cabinet to note the progress made in developing the school estate in Cardiff under Band A and the early part of Band B of the 21st Century Schools Programme, in addition to the Local Development Plan, and the Council's enhanced school asset maintenance programme.

The report also recommends Cabinet;

  • approves the consolidation of the post of Programme Director as a permanent post reporting to the Director of Education, in line with the Council's pay structure at Assistant Director level
  • delegates authority to the Director of Education & Lifelong Learning (in consultation with the Cabinet Members for Education, Employment & Skills and Finance, Modernisation & Performance, the Director of Governance and Legal Services, the Corporate Director for Resources, and the Director of Economic Development) to determine all aspects of the procurement process* for new build schools within the School Organisation Programme that have been agreed to proceed to implementation by Cabinet.

*(including for the avoidance of doubt development of all procurement documentation and selection and award criteria, commencement of procurement through to award of contracts)

Notes to Editors

Projects delivered under the five year 21st Century Schools Band A Programme (2014 to 2019):


  • Two new high schools:
    • Eastern High, in collaboration with Cardiff & Vale College, on an innovative shared learning campus
    • Cardiff West Community High School, a pathfinder school with creative partners, due to open over Easter
  • Six new primary schools:
    • Pontprennau
    • Howardian
    • Ysgol Glan Morfa
    • Gabalfa and Ysgol Glan Ceubal
    • Ysgol Hamadryad
  • Improvements to existing schools, for example:
    • Coed Glas Primary School's ‘Learning Cube'
    • Adamsdown Primary School extension