PLANS to extend the age range at a Welsh medium school in Torfaen that was recently placed in special measures have been approved by councillors.

Torfaen council’s cabinet agreed to move ahead with the £6million project for Ysgol Gyfun Gwynllyw at a meeting on Tuesday (June 18).

The Welsh Government funded scheme, which will be subject to planning permission, will see the age range at the Pontypool school extended from 11-18 to three-18 from September, 2021.

It will become the first school for pupils aged three-18 in the county borough.

The school was recently placed in special measures by education watchdog Estyn after inspectors found shortcomings in several areas.

John Tushingham, head of access and engagement at the council, told councillors the age range extension could bring benefits to the school, such as ensuring a smooth transition from primary to secondary age.

“This is an opportunity for the school to look at wider aspects of having a broader age range,” he added.


“Quite often there is talk about younger pupils having peers in an older age group lead by example.

“It’s those kind of aspects we would need the school to investigate and fully exploit as part of this proposal.”

Councillors considered the outcome of a public consultation on the plans, which saw one objection lodged.

The objector raised concerns over traffic, a lack of safe pedestrian routes and worries over the age gap between some pupils.

But councillor David Yeowell provided assurances that no pupil would be disadvantaged by the proposal to extend the school’s age range.

Councillors were told traffic issues would be considered in more detail when a planning application is submitted for the scheme.

One idea being explored is having different start times according to age groups, the meeting heard.

Council leader, Anthony Hunt, said the proposal would not have any impact on English medium schools being developed in the borough.

The meeting heard there is a growing demand for Welsh medium education in Torfaen.

“Clearly we have got aspirations for it to grow and those aspirations are supported by the Welsh Government,” Mr Tushingham said.

The extra provision will open in September 2021 as a seedling school, initially with a nursery and reception class only and then growing each year.

Plans include an on-site nursery for 30 full time equivalent three and four-year-olds.

Welsh medium primary school catchment areas will need to be changed as part of the plans.