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Statement - 3 June 2020

The Torfaen Learning Zone is still making good progress, but with ongoing uncertainty around COVID-19 and social distancing regulations, we can't guarantee it will be ready to open as planned for September.

To give learners and staff maximum assurance, the September term will start in our Pontypool Campus, which will remain open for as long as necessary until Torfaen Learning Zone is finished and ready for learning. This will give everyone the best possible start to the new academic year and provide continuity of learning. When Torfaen Learning Zone is ready, we’ll do everything to provide a seamless transition to the new campus, with all the necessary support along the way.

Progress Photo - May 2020 Progress Photo - May 2020

Learning Zone delay possible

Coleg Gwent, Torfaen Council and the contractor Interserve Construction are developing thorough contingency plans should the opening of the Torfaen Learning Zone be delayed due to the ongoing outbreak of Covid-19.

Although progress had been ahead of schedule, Interserve Construction, who have continued working throughout the outbreak have had to deal with several issues, including social distancing guidelines that have restricted numbers on site and changed working practices as well as the reduced delivery of materials due to the furloughing of staff in the supply chain.

Coleg Gwent’s Principal, Guy Lacey said: “We monitor daily the ongoing construction of the Torfaen Learning Zone.   Work continues to take place but due to social distancing measures, contractors are working at a reduced capacity and it is possible that deadline for the new academic year will not be met. Given the circumstances, it is unfortunate but understandable, that progress has slowed and we recognise the disruption this is having on our plans and the potential worry this may cause learners.

“I want to assure our future learners that should we need to delay the opening of the TLZ, we are prepared.  We have been working hard with partners over the past few weeks to develop a contingency plan that will ensure our learners and staff can start the new academic year on time.   

“Our Pontypool Campus remains fully operational and can be kept open as long as necessary. While Pontypool may not have all of the wonderful resources that the new learning zone will provide, we are continuing to plan for this eventuality and we will keep prospective students and staff informed of how construction and the plans for Pontypool develop.” 

Councillor Anthony Hunt, the Leader of Torfaen Council said: “COVID-19 is having a significant impact on all aspects of our daily operations.  As yet, we're not entirely sure what the impact of lockdown and the timescales for recovery from Covid will have on the Torfaen Learning Zone. The site is still making progress and Interserve Construction is pressing on and working flat out with the resources they have while complying with social distancing, but we will monitor the situation closely and keep everyone informed on progress.”

Carl Read, Divisional Director for Interserve South Wales, said: “ Interserve Construction continue to work with all stakeholders to ensure the successful delivery of this prestigious Project,  ensuring the health, safety and welfare of its employees and supply chain are paramount at all times under the current COVID 19 pandemic.  Whilst it was inevitable that Covid 19 would affect programme, we continue to manage the Project as efficiently as possible under the current circumstances and will look to mitigate delays wherever possible.”

For further information on the Torfaen Learning Zone and some frequently asked question visit www.coleggwent.ac.uk/torfaen-faqs 

Learning Zone delay possible

Topping out ceremony takes place for Torfaen Learning Zone

On Thursday 12 September, a topping out ceremony took place on the roof of the Torfaen Learning Zone to mark the latest milestone in the £24 million development.

The Torfaen Learning Zone will be the home of all English language A Level education in Torfaen and will also offer the Welsh Baccalaureate and a range of level 2 and 3 qualifications.

The centre is in a prime location next to the Morrisons store in the centre of Cwmbran with excellent links to public transport and facilities in the town centre. It will serve all pupils in the borough and will become the pathway for Torfaen students into higher education, training and employment.

It will replace the three English medium school 6th forms in the borough and will be managed and run by Coleg Gwent in partnership with the council. The 6th form closures at Croesyceiliog, Cwmbran High and St Albans RC High will take place at the end of the summer term in 2020 to coincide with the opening of the new centre in Cwmbran in September 2020.

Councillor David Yeowell, executive member for education, said: “This is a landmark moment for the Torfaen Learning Zone which is well on track and will transform post-16 education for Torfaen students, offering them the best possible curriculum in a modern, high quality learning environment.”

Welsh Government Deputy Minister for Economy and Transport, Lee Waters said: “Even though our budget has been cut because of austerity we’re prioritising money to build new schools and colleges. The Torfaen Learning Zone is a £12 million investment in the area and will see a big improvement. As we mark the 20th anniversary of devolution today’s announcement is example of how we’re making a difference to the lives of students and teachers in Torfaen.”

Councillor Anthony Hunt, leader of the council, said: “This event marks another significant milestone in this exciting development. There’s a lot of work taking place with Coleg Gwent, the schools and council to ensure the students get the possible transition from school to the Torfaen Learning Zone and we’re all looking forward to opening its doors for students in 2020.

Coleg Gwent Principal Guy Lacey said, “This is an exciting day in the development of the Torfaen Learning Zone, which will be an amazing facility for the young people and adult learners of the area. We very much look forward to welcoming our first learners when we open the doors next September."

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First sod cut at the Torfaen Learning Zone

On Monday, 19th November, Torfaen Council and Coleg Gwent officially cut the first sod of Torfaen’s new post 16 learning centre to mark the beginning of a new era for education in Torfaen.

Although the foundations are well underway, the ceremonial sod cutting ceremony marked a significant milestone in the construction of the new £24 million learning centre due to open in September 2020.

As part of the ceremony, Council Leader, Anthony Hunt and Coleg Gwent Principal, Guy Lacey also revealed the new Coleg Gwent campus would be called the Torfaen Learning Zone.

The Torfaen Learning Zone is part of the council’s 21st Century Schools programme and is jointly funded by the council and Welsh Government.

The new Coleg Gwent campus will become the home of all English language A Level education in Torfaen and will offer students the Welsh Baccalaureate plus a range of level 2 & 3 vocational qualifications.

The campus replaces three English medium school sixth forms in the borough. It will be managed and run by Coleg Gwent in partnership with the council and will provide the pathway for Torfaen students into higher education, training and employment.

Leader of Torfaen Council, councillor Anthony Hunt said: ‘This ceremonial sod cutting of the Torfaen Learning Zone is a landmark day for the council and helps secure a more sustainable way of delivering post 16 education in Torfaen. Our schools have managed admirably, but the financial environment presents huge challenges which are unlikely to get any easier in the years ahead.  

‘Our motivation as always is our learners, and making sure they will be able to access the broadest possible curriculum and quality of provision into the future. The development of the wider site represents a joint investment of over £27 million and takes the total amount of capital investment in education in Torfaen since 2014 to just under £90 million.’ 

Executive Member for Education, Councillor David Yeowell, said: ‘This is a momentous event in Torfaen’s history and it is fantastic to see our schools represented here today. The change from school based sixth forms has naturally presented challenges, but I have been very impressed with the spirit of cooperation that has developed with Coleg Gwent to ensure that everything is delivered to the highest possible standard. I’m particularly looking forward to witnessing the first intake of learners stepping into the Torfaen Learning Zone in 2020.’

Coleg Gwent’s Principal, Guy Lacey added: ‘Today marks a key milestone in the  development of this fantastic facility for all of Torfaen. It is a celebration of what is to come and we very much look forward to welcoming our first learners when we open the doors in 2020.’

First sod cut at the Torfaen Learning Zone

Sod cutting at the Torfaen Learning Zone

Last Modified: 03/06/2020
For more information contact:

Forward Planning
Tel: 01495 766910
Email: 21stcenturylearning@torfaen.gov.uk

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