Primary and SEN pupils celebrate progress on their new school
The 3-16 school, estimated to cost around £50 million, is part of The Works: Ebbw Vale regeneration scheme and the primary phase will merge the three schools into one facility and also provide a new children’s centre. It is scheduled to open in September 2012 and is being constructed by the Leadbitter Group on behalf of Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council and the Welsh Assembly Government.
The pupils gathered in the main hall of the new school—where construction of the roof has just been completed and a large Christmas tree was erected for the occasion—to sing carols and receive a visit from Father Christmas.
Bradley Morgan, Chair of Blaenau Gwent Youth Forum, addressed those who attended:
“As chair of the youth forum, please accept my sincere thanks for giving me the opportunity to attend today’s memorable ceremony. We can now look forward to exciting times where all children, young people and their families can benefit from the fantastic regeneration of the steel works.
“On behalf of the young people of the borough I would like to thank the Authority for its tireless work in making our futures look much brighter. I would also like to thank the Welsh Government for its support and finally contractor Leadbitter.”
Ed Rees, Area Director Wales in Leadbitter’s Western Construction division, said:
“We are delighted to have the opportunity to celebrate the progress on the school with those who will benefit from its new facilities. As part of our work constructing this first-class learning environment, we have organised an ongoing programme of visits for the pupils, enabling them to see their new school come to life with their own eyes. This has offered the added benefit of providing opportunities for children from the different schools to meet and get to know each other, easing their eventual transition into the new building.”
Coun John Mason, Leader of Blaenau Gwent Council, said:
“It was wonderful to see the children really getting excited about their new school, which is a core element of the Council’s strategy to boost educational attainment in Blaenau Gwent. It will provide first class facilities, and children will especially benefit from being part of a 3-16 school through a smoother transition into the secondary element of the school.”
The two storey steel framed school is built on the old Hotmill steel works plateau, and Leadbitter has provided a high level of design management input to maximise output gains on a very fast programme. For example, when the external wall design was changed from metal frame to structurally insulated panel, Leadbitter turned to manufacturer MIB in Blaenau Gwent to secure the panels.
From a sustainability standpoint, the building has been awarded a BREEAM Excellent rating for design, and its green features will include a biomass energy centre, photovoltaic panels, triple glazing and a high degree of air tightness.
From an economic and social point of view, The Works is being developed and delivered within a sustainable development framework that makes the project one of its kind in the UK. Leadbitter is supporting this through employing local labour and suppliers, providing training opportunities and educating young people through youth projects and apprenticeships.
Launched by Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council and the Welsh Government, The Works is a £350 million scheme that is transforming the former steelworks site into a vibrant and distinctive area that will provide new recreation, leisure and education facilities, low carbon housing, General Offices, Central Valley Wetland Park and an arts facility and improved transport links. The project is part of the wider regeneration of Blaenau Gwent, following the closure of the former steelworks in Ebbw Vale in 2002, and will contribute to the sustainable development of the area by providing employment and encouraging lifelong learning opportunities.