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Cardiff West Community High School reaches new heights

Construction of Cardiff West Community High School's brand new home, due for completion early next year, has hit another major milestone as the building reaches full height. 

The moment has been marked by a topping out ceremony, hosted by Richard Jones, Operations Director at Willmott Dixon, the company building the new school, and joined by invited guests: Deputy Leader of Cardiff Council, and Cabinet Member for Education, Employment and Skills, Cllr Sarah Merry; Cardiff West Community High School Headteacher, Mr Martin Hulland - along with Chair of Governors, Dewi Jones and Year 7 pupils, Alfie Farrant and Maddison Morgan - plus local Councillors. 

Cllr Merry said: "This new, purpose built home for Cardiff West Community High School represents a £36m investment in the education of our children and also the communities of Caerau and Ely. 

"I believe that every child has the right to a good education and a decent school building. I am excited to see the transformation Cardiff West Community High School is already bringing to secondary education in the local area, and I am looking forward to seeing the school moving into its new home, fit for the 21stCentury, next year." 

The new building is being jointly funded by the council and Welsh Government through Band A of the Welsh Government's 21st Century Schools and Education Programme. In total £164m is being provided for the programme, with Cardiff Council and the Welsh Government each providing £82m. 

Education Secretary, Kirsty Williams, said: "Funded by £18m from the Welsh Government, Cardiff West Community High School will provide an excellent learning environment fit for the 21st Century. I'm delighted to see how quickly the school is taking shape and look forward to seeing the completed building. 

"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 Council announced the next phase of its 21stCentury Schools Programme in December, earmarking, with fifty percent match funding from Welsh Government, a further £284m to build new schools across the city - the biggest single investment in Cardiff Council's schools. 

Cardiff West Community High School opened in September, at a temporary location on the former site of Michaelston Community College in Ely. 

Headteacher, Mr Martin Hulland, said: "It is great that we are now less than a year away from moving to this fantastic, £36m permanent home for Cardiff West Community High School. 

"Our 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 site." 

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. 

Richard Jones, Operations Director at Willmott Dixon, said: "It is great to be able to celebrate reaching this milestone. We know how important this school is to the local area, and we have been working hard to ensure that the construction of the building has a positive impact on the community too. 

"Through our engagement with local schools and colleges, to date we have provided over 860 weeks of training opportunities to apprentices, trainees and the long term unemployed, and this number will continue to rise as we progress through the next stages of the build. 

"We have also welcomed many of the new school's excited pupils through our doors to see for themselves how we are building their new learning home, and it has been fantastic to see this enthusiasm replicated in the local school workshops we have run, sharing the many career opportunities that construction can provide." 

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. 

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.