Ancient tradition for 21st Century school: Penarth Learning Community celebrates topping out ceremony with custom to ward off evil spirits
1:54pm Wednesday 18th September 2013 in News
PENARTH Learning Community celebrated construction reaching its highest point with a topping out ceremony yesterday (Wednesday September 18) - featuring a tradition used to ward off evil spirits.
Huw Lewis AM, Minister for Education and Skills, and representatives from the team building the new Penarth Learning Community, marked the occasion by raising a yew tree to the top of the building, a custom which dates back to medieval times.
Mr Lewis was joined by Stephen Doughty, MP for Cardiff South and Penarth, along with Jane Wade, Operations Manager Property for the Vale of Glamorgan Council, and Rob Bradley, Managing Director of Leadbitter and Bouygues UK’s Western team, which is building the new schools.
As part of the topping out ceremony St Cyres School's wind band performed a medley of pieces and pupils from the three special schools sang S Club 7’s ‘Reach for the Stars’.
The £39.4 million project is creating two new schools in a single building on the site of St Cyres School in Penarth. As well as providing new facilities for the mainstream comprehensive school, the project will create a new Special Education Needs (SEN) school, Ysgol y Deri. This will accommodate pupils from three existing SEN schools in the area: Ysgol Erw’r Delyn, Ysgol Maes Dyfan and Ashgrove School.
Pupils from St Cyres will move into their new school in October 2014, with Ysgol y Deri being occupied from December 2014.
Huw Lewis said: “The £33.3 million investment that the Welsh Government has made available for this project demonstrates our commitment, more than ever, to providing the best learning environments for Welsh learners. This, in turn, will ensure that the best standard of education will be provided.
“It is also good to witness firsthand the impact Welsh capital investment is having on the creation of jobs and the delivery of training. Everyone involved in this project should feel very proud of what has been achieved and I look forward to coming back next year to see the school fully open.”
The existing St Cyres School buildings will be demolished to make way for new sporting facilities, with two gyms and an all-weather artificial turf pitch. Outside teaching spaces, including a wildlife garden and allotments, will also be established in this phase. Leadbitter is also building a respite centre for SEN pupils and their parents as part of the project.
Rob Bradley, Managing Director of Leadbitter and Bouygues UK’s Western team, which is building the new schools, said it was “a very special day and a landmark in the construction process”.
Dr Jonathan Hicks, head teacher of St Cyres, said that the progress that had been made in the last 12 months was “phenomenal” and described the topping out ceremony as an “historic day”.
Stephen Doughty, MP for Cardiff South and Penarth, welcomed the boost for jobs and apprenticeships that the development had brought and said he was looking forward to work being completed on the school.
Penarth Learning Community is also set to open its doors to the public as part of an Open Doors Weekend 2013 next Friday, September 27, and Saturday, September 28.