Jeremy Miles, Minister for Education and Welsh Language
In my Oral Statement to Plenary last November I announced that, from 1 January 2022, all new-build, major refurbishment and extension projects requesting funding support through the programme would be required to demonstrate delivery of net-zero carbon in operation, plus a 20 per cent reduction on the amount of embodied carbon—that is, the carbon emitted through construction materials and the construction process.
In supporting this, I agreed to fund 100 per cent of the additional costs to meet the net-zero carbon commitment under this current wave of investment.
Since my Statement, I am pleased to confirm that our local authority delivery partners have risen to the challenge in aligning this commitment across their school project pipelines. Wales’ first Net Zero Carbon primary school, South Point Primary, opened its doors for learners in March this year; this is testament towards our collective commitment towards reducing carbon emissions and tackling climate change.
My Statement also set out my expectation of local authorities and their design and delivery teams to work collaboratively with our children, young people, Teachers, staff and communities so that they have the opportunity to help design, build, and manage their learning environment; I made reference to a ‘Sustainable Schools Challenge’.
To that end, I am delighted to confirm that invitations have been extended to local authorities for the submission of candidate projects from their Sustainable Communities for Learning Programme that are able to collaboratively deliver an innovative, sustainable primary school that is at one with the community and natural surroundings.
Candidate projects will be expected to be innovative and demonstrate collaboration with local communities, including pupils and families, in the design, delivery and management of the school. This is an excellent opportunity to incorporate the design and construction of a school into the curriculum.
Bids have been invited from all 22 Welsh local authorities, with one school to be built in the north of Wales and one in the south, with up to £15m for each school, totalling £30m funding provided to cover the costs of each project.
The designs will be expected to make a positive contribution to the local environment and their surrounding landscapes, including promoting active travel. Local natural materials will be used where possible.
There will be a need to demonstrate a range of environmental criteria, such as using recycled or natural materials, providing high levels of natural daylight, low energy and water consumption, and to make a positive contribution towards biodiversity.
Schools are at the heart of our communities. We must be ambitious in how we build new schools, enabling their design to make a positive contribution to learners and staff, local communities and to the natural environment
These two pilot projects will act as a blueprint for all schools in future, so they are at one with their natural surroundings, strengthening our commitment towards decarbonisation and environmental protection.
Sustainability is mandatory within the new Curriculum for Wales and will form part of every learner's education throughout their learning journey. Schools that benefit from the fund will involve learners in the development or implementation of sustainable and environmental solutions as part of their learning.
I will be announcing the two successful projects early in 2023.