More than 200 members of the public have had their say on proposals for a new build Willows High School during a six week public engagement which sought the views of parents, pupils, stakeholders and the local community.

The responses will be published in a report to go to Cardiff Council's Cabinet when it meets on Thursday 23, September and will influence the school's new building, its facilities, curriculum and how the school and local community could work to benefit each other. 

The majority of views were in support of the plans, with positive feedback on proposals for facilities, support for pupil aspirations through partnership working and how investment will deliver improved education and community amenities for the Adamsdown and Splott communities.

Cabinet Member for Education, Employment and Skills, Cllr Sarah Merry said: "A new home for Willows High Schoolrepresents a significant investment in the local area, providing considerably improved educational facilities in a brand new school as well as excellent amenities accessible to the whole community.

"The views of local people will play an integral part in the scheme and it is promising that so many responses received have been in support of the new school development.

"The public engagement asked for views on what should be taught at the school and how it should be delivered. Responses supported a focus on collaborative working with a wide range of industry partners, allowing pupils to benefit from a rich curriculum which delivers ‘real world' learning opportunities, inspiring them and helping to develop their skills to be resilient, innovative and problem solving learners.

"The report also identifies a host of community benefits on offer including access to state-of-the art, modern facilities, ICT and integration with city partners and businesses."

The engagement raised some questions around the location of the new school build and traffic and road safety.

Cllr Merry added: "We acknowledge there were some concerns such as the location of the new school. After consideration was given to several sites, the proposed location was found to be accessible for the catchment population with a range of active transport routes already in place. There would be an opportunity to deliver on the Council's commitment to develop Active Travel Plans and accessible walking and cycling routes for all schools, by implementing new routes for cycling and improved pedestrian facilities in the area.

"The new site would also present significant benefits for the school and community, including opportunities to form links with local businesses and organisations the area who can helpcreate challenging, supportive and stimulating opportunities to promote aspiration and achievement."

Delivered under Cardiff Council and Welsh Governments 21st Century, Band B Schools and Education Investment Programme, the reports seeks Cabinet approval to progress proposals which would include;

  • Relocating and rebuilding the school on three parcels of land at Splott Market, Portmanmoor Road and 3G pitches at the former tennis centre, providing enough space for the new school without taking away any existing open space.
  • Providing pupils with access to a high quality learning environment to support and enhance teaching and learning.
  • A community focussed school with facilities available for use by the whole community outside of core school hours.
  • Enhanced pedestrian facilities to support active travel arrangements on the Lewis Road site
  • Capacity for 900 places for learners aged 11 to 16, in line with the projected demand
  • Pupils to remain at the existing Willows High School site until the new school build is complete to minimise the potential for disruption

Cllr Merry added: "The views from children and young people reflected the need to nurture and support their future ambitions. They will play important role in developing a new vision for the school and will support Cardiff's ambition of becoming a recognised Child Friendly City, where the opinions of children and young people are at the heart of all decision making."

The report also requests the Cabinet to note the change of the funding mechanism.  The replacement Willows High School is currently part of the Mutual Investment Model (MIM) Welsh Government funding programme but will move back to the Band B 21st Century Schools capital funded programme, largely to provide flexibility for the school building in future.

The public engagement ran from June 14 2021.