Kirsty Williams, Minister for Education ‘breaks ground’ for Bridgend College’s £30 million STEAM Academy

Bridgend College has officially begun construction work on its state of the art STEAM Academy, to be built as an addition to its campus at Pencoed.

The breaking of the ground ceremony was held on-site at Pencoed Campus on Monday 9th December and saw Kirsty Williams, Minister for Education in Wales, in attendance alongside Councillors and AMs, Bridgend College Governors and various stakeholders from the local and wider community.

Minister for Education, Kirsty Williams said,

“I was delighted to attend the start of construction at the brand new STEAM Academy at Bridgend College.

“This project has received just under £20 million in support through our 21st Century schools programme – we want to ensure learners have access to a range of courses and facilities which meet their needs and this facility will help to support this.

“The further education sector is crucial to our capacity to deliver our commitments and I look forward to the project’s successful completion.”

The project has been partly funded by the Welsh Government through its 21st Century Schools and Education Programme which aims to transform the learning experience of learners, ensuring they are taught in classrooms with the technologies and facilities needed to deliver a 21st Century curriculum.

CEO and Principal of Bridgend College, Simon Pirotte, said:

“The state of the art building will bring 21st Century learning to the Bridgend County Borough and will boost employment and training opportunities.

We are continually evaluating our curriculum and campuses to ensure that we are preparing our learners for an ever-changing job market and we aim to give them the opportunities they so rightly deserve.”

“In certain areas, we know there is a skills shortage and we need to respond to this challenge.  We want our learners to progress to sustainable well-paid employment – and that’s good for them, good for our communities and good for Wales. Our Association of Colleges (AoC) Beacon Award win for Transferable Skills demonstrates that commitment to our learners and communities.”

The Academy will be more than just an educational establishment, offering many benefits to the local community. These include evening and weekend adult learning as well as café facilities for public use. A multi-purpose lecture hall and conference facilities will be available for hire in a bid to support businesses in the local and wider community.

The campus at Pencoed is home to the College’s land-based curriculum which includes horticulture, agriculture and countryside, equine and animal care departments. With unique facilities such as conservation areas, a purpose-built equine centre and greenhouses, it’s imperative to maintain the use of these areas and the ‘green’ feel of the campus.

As the first College in Wales to sign the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Accord, Bridgend College has developed a sustainable development strategy which aligns with the Sustainable Development Goals and has committed to further substantial progress in the decarbonisation of its activities.

The location of the STEAM Academy has been considered to suit site constraints and requirements for the new facilities in relation to existing college buildings.

Leanne O’Brien, head of the Real Estate Division at Capital Law, said:

“Working closely with Bridgend College on the STEAM Academy, from conception, has been really exciting. The complexity of the project called for collaboration – that’s why our property, construction, finance and education teams joined forces, and why we used our network to introduce the relevant funding experts when needed.

“Seeing construction start on site for this impressive facility is a fantastic moment for all involved in making this ambitious scheme a reality, and I look forward to seeing it boost employment and training opportunities in the region when it opens its doors in 2021.”

The College which was judged as ‘double excellent’ in its most recent Estyn inspection and ranked 28 in The Sunday Times 100 Best Not-For-Profit Organisations to Work For, sees this as an exciting development for not only the College itself but for Bridgend and the region.

Kirsty Williams, Minister for Education in Wales, speaking at the event.

Simon Pirotte, Principal & CEO of Bridgend College speaking at the event

Kirsty Williams, Minister for Education in Wales, at the site of the construction alongside various stakeholders from the local and wider community