Construction begins on permanent home for Cardiff West Community High School
The turf has been cut by Deputy Leader of Cardiff Council, and Cabinet Member for Education, Employment and Skills, Cllr Sarah Merry, and Cabinet Secretary for Education, Kirsty Williams AM, at a ceremony to mark the start of construction for the new home of Cardiff West Community High School, opening in early 2019.
They were joined by guests, who included pupils from the school and headteacher, Mr Martin Hulland, local primary schools and local politicians, on the Penally Road site in Caerau, the new location of the £36m school.
Speaking at the ceremony, Cllr Merry said: "This is a fantastic moment for Cardiff West Community High School. The project is a £36m investment not only in the education of our children, but also in the community.
"But a new school is more than just a building, and Headteacher, Martin Hulland, his staff, the whole community and also our partners, through the Cardiff Creative Education partnership, are putting huge efforts into making sure that Cardiff West Community High School is a success.
"I believe that every child has the right to a good education and a decent school building, and Cardiff West Community High School is going to be an excellent example of us achieving that."
The new building is being jointly funded by the council and Welsh Government, as part of Cardiff's £164m 21st Century Schools programme.
Education Secretary, Kirsty Williams said: "The Welsh Government is committed to driving up educational standards in Wales, including overcoming barriers to learning and supporting the provision of fit for purpose schools and colleges of the right size, in the right location and with the right facilities to deliver our new curriculum.
"Our support for this £36 million new build school is further evidence of that commitment and I am delighted to have been here for the turf cutting ceremony.
"This project is part of the first wave of the Welsh Government's 21st Century Schools and Education Programme, which will see the rebuild and refurbishment of over 150 schools and colleges across Wales, representing the largest investment in our schools and colleges since the 1960s."
Cardiff West Community High School opened in September, at a temporary location on the former site of Michaelston Community College in Ely.
Mr Hulland said: "It is incredible to think that there is just over three more terms at our temporary home before we move to this fantastic, £36m permanent home for Cardiff West Community High School.
"This is an amazing opportunity, and I have really enjoyed the last year since becoming head teacher at Cardiff West Community High School. There's been a huge amount of work that's gone on behind the scenes, planning the new school curriculum, and making sure that we are working closely with our local primaries to create a smooth transition to secondary school.
"Cardiff West Community High School is about transforming lives and life chances, and we've started that process already. I am delighted to be working alongside committed staff to make sure that we are getting all the basics and foundations right, so we will be really on the front foot, making sure we are making a difference, each and every day, when we move to our permanent home."
At eight form-entry, the new build will be able to accommodate up to 1200 pupils, in over 13,500 square metres of floor space.
Along with new school buildings split into three separate blocks, the 8.8 hectare site will accommodate new playing fields and a mixed use games area.
As well as representing a £36m investment in the local area, the project will also bring a number of other community benefits during its construction, including working with local schools and colleges, contributing to community schemes, training and employment opportunities and opportunities for small and medium sized businesses to supply materials and services.
Neal Stephens, Managing Director of Willmott Dixon, the company building the school, said: "We are proud to begin construction of this fantastic new school for the people of Cardiff West. Throughout our programme, Willmott Dixon will maximise every opportunity for local employment, apprenticeships and training. Together we will create a lasting legacy of skills and experience, whilst building the new school as a focus for people of all ages in this community."
Cardiff West Community High School is a ‘pathfinder school', promoting links forged under the ‘Cardiff Creative Education Partnership' that has seen some of the biggest names in Cardiff's creative sector joining forces with the local authority to promote creativity at the heart of learning.
The partnership offers the school's children and young people exciting work experience placements, helping them to make the most of opportunities in the creative and cultural sector, including film, television, digital design and theatre.
It also gives them creative skills that can be applied to other careers and jobs.
Cllr Merry added: "This is an excellent opportunity to strengthen education by putting creativity at the heart of learning and unlocking opportunities in Cardiff's successful creative economy.
"It is essential that we help the city's young people put themselves in the strongest possible position to take full advantage of Cardiff's growing economy.
"I want to make sure that that no one is left behind and that a child's social background is not the deciding factor in whether or not they can build a successful career for themselves."
The ‘Founding Partners' are Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales; BBC Wales; Cardiff Council; Cardiff and Vale College; Cardiff Metropolitan University, Creative & Cultural Skills; University of South Wales; Wales Millennium Centre; Welsh National Opera.