Pupils, teachers, builders and representatives from Bouygues UK, the Welsh Government and Neath Port Talbot Council marked a key milestone in the building of Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Dur, a new Welsh medium secondary campus by attending a ‘topping out’ ceremony in Sandfields.
On arrival, guests were greeted with background music provided by pupils from Ysgol Gymraeg Ystalyfera – Bro Dur. Guests were then welcomed by Bouygues UK Regional Managing Director, Rob Bradley who spoke of the long history and tradition of ‘topping-out’ ceremonies.
Topping out is a phrase used to describe the traditional celebration of the completion of a building’s main structure.
Rob Bradley, Regional Managing Director of Bouygues UK, said: “Topping out is a significant milestone that celebrates a building reaching its full structural height and marks the start of a countdown to completion. Having delivered a number of schools in the area, we’re excited to be working with Neath Port Talbot Council and making rapid progress on this project that will provide another exceptional learning environment for the county borough’s children”.
During the ceremony, Aled Evans, Director of Education, Leisure and Lifelong Learning praised and thanked everyone involved in the construction of the new school building, a £19m, state of the art development that will help secure the future of Welsh-medium education in the county borough. The project is being jointly funded by Neath Port Talbot Council and the Welsh Government, as part of its 21st Century Schools and Education Programme.
Aled Davies, a former pupil of Tyle’r Ynn and Year 7 pupil of the new Welsh medium campus was also congratulated for coming up with the new school name, Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Dur, which roughly translates as ‘steel community’ school. The Leader of Neath Port Talbot Council, Councillor Rob Jones presented Aled Davies with an engraved slate award in recognition of his achievement.
The name was chosen in a competition by pupils for the new Welsh medium campus in Port Talbot. Matthew Evans, Head of Ysgol Gymraeg Ystalyfera – Bro Dur, said: “We received a number of great ideas for the new name, but pupils, parents and staff opted for Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Dur in order to show the community links with the industry and also the qualities of strength and durability of steel found in the character of our wider community.
“Ysgol Gymraeg Ystalyfera is very proud of its sister campus in the south, which will aim to forge new and strong community relationships with communities of the south of the county borough in the years ahead”.
The grand finale of the celebration event ended with guests witnessing a yew tree being hoisted over the new school building.
Councillor Peter Rees, Cabinet Member for Education, Skills and Culture said: “The Topping out ceremony at Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Dur underlines another key landmark in Neath Port Talbot Council’s ambitious plan for creating the best environment for teaching and learning to help us improve standards, making sure the right schools are in the right place, and they are fit for 21st Century learners.”
“The new Welsh medium campus together with the redevelopment of the existing Ysgol Gymraeg Ystalyfera site in the north will form a key part of the Council’s plans to strengthen the provision of Welsh medium education across the county borough”.
Minister for Welsh Language and Lifelong Learning, Eluned Morgan said: “I am very pleased the construction of this new school has reached such an important milestone. Increasing the number of Welsh medium schools, as well as supporting English medium schools to increase their Welsh provision, is crucial to our aim of a million Welsh speakers by 2050.
I am delighted the Welsh Government has been able to support the development with funding of nearly £11 million from the 21st Century Schools and Education Programme. It is an excellent example of what the Welsh Government is achieving by working in partnership with local government and schools.
The construction of the new school is expected to be completed by August 2018 and will eventually accommodate up to 650 pupils aged 11 to 16. The new school is being built on the site of the former Sandfields Comprehensive and Traethmelyn Primary Schools.