More than £90 million has been invested in Denbighshire’s schools with 4,300 pupils benefiting from improved facilities.
This is part of a host of achievements through Denbighshire County Council’s efforts to support young people which includes the development of a co-working space for entrepreneurs at the former Costigan’s building in Rhyl and the construction of a new Welsh Language Centre in St Asaph.
Four brand new school buildings have been created in Denbighshire over the past five years for Rhos Street School and Ysgol Pen Barras in Ruthin, Ysgol Carreg Emlyn in Clocaenog, Ysgol Llanfair in Llanfair Dyffryn Clwyd and Christ the Word, Rhyl, while a significant extension was built at Ysgol Glan Clwyd, St Asaph.
They were funded by the Welsh Government’s 21st Century Schools and Colleges Programme and Denbighshire County Council.
The Council’s work was carried out under the Young People priority as part of its Corporate Plan 2017-2022, which set the direction and ambition for the authority for the past five years.
Councillor Huw Hilditch-Roberts, the Council’s Lead Member for Education, Children’s Services and Public Engagement, said: “We have been working to make Denbighshire a place where young people can and want to flourish.
“We know that physical and emotional well-being from an early age is important, preventing problems occurring later in life. We have strived to give young people the best start in life, and worked with our partners, schools and businesses to make this happen.
“We have continued to deliver on modernising our school facilities to ensure that our children have a learning environment that supports their education.”
Other work carried out under the 21st Century Schools and Colleges Programme but completed before 2017 included a new building for Rhyl High School and extensions at Bodnant Community School and Ysgol Bro Dyfrdwy, Cynwyd.
Plans are already in place to deliver further investments in partnership with the Welsh Government through the Sustainable Communities for Learning Programme, which has now replaced the 21st Century Schools and Colleges Programme.
Proposals are being developed for a new facility at Ysgol Plas Brondyffryn, in Denbigh together with further investment at Ysgol Pendref and Denbigh High School in Denbigh and at Ysgol Bryn Collen and Ysgol Gwernant in Llangollen.
In 2019/20 Denbighshire’s school catering service was recognised as one of the top 6 best performing services in the UK by The Association for Public Service Excellence based upon comparisons with other school meals services from across the UK.
It took into account things such as food purchasing initiatives, school meal uptake, management costs, staff training, absence levels and communication with customers.
Pupils from 21 schools also benefitted from the Council’s nutrition and cooking skills programme which provided activities to learn more about healthy eating and cooking skills.
The Young Person’s priority has also focused on providing skills and employment opportunities.
Costigan’s Coworking Space provides a workspace for entrepreneurs and was handed over to co-working and small business experts, Town Square Spaces Ltd (TownSq), in January 2021.
The Council used funding through the European Regional Development Fund and the Welsh Government to create the office accommodation at the semi-derelict Costigan’s building on Bodfor Street, Rhyl.
It is currently home to founders, freelancers and entrepreneurs who are creating jobs and boosting the local economy and is also supporting local workers employed by other companies who are working closer to home.
Costigan’s also offers a number of programs, including after-hours start-up clubs, fast-growth accelerators, workshops and one-to-one mentorship and offers funded business-development packages worth up to £5,000 as well as support accessing the Welsh Government’s Town Centre Entrepreneurship Fund grant of up to £10,000.
Other support provided in Denbighshire included ensuring young people had support, mentoring and work opportunities to help them develop their skills through the Council’s Working Denbighshire scheme.
This strategic approach to tackling poverty through employment aims to coordinate support that helps people into work, removes barriers and gives young people the best start in life.
One Working Denbighshire project is the Work Start Scheme which creates paid and unpaid work placements within the Council and local businesses, offering people from vulnerable backgrounds, returners to work, and those new to work, valuable insight into the world of employment and work experience.
Individuals are provided with one-to-one mentoring and have been supported with gaining qualifications during placements alongside progression onto career pathways and apprenticeships.
More than 100 placements have been offered since Work Start’s launch in in April 2019, with 60 so far completed and to date 26 residents have secured sustainable paid employment following their placement.
An Employee Training Grant has also been made available to help Denbighshire residents who are employed to get funding for training so that they can get a better wage and further their careers in the county.
Councillor Hugh Evans OBE, Leader of Denbighshire County Council and Lead Member for the Economy and Corporate Governance, said: “As a Council we recognised the need for excellent education provision to work alongside a strong employment offer for all, focusing on skills for work and skills for life.
“I am proud of the range of support we have provided to help young people gain the skills they need to achieve rewarding careers. This emphasis came as a direct result of involving young people with our work in developing our plans.
“A number of projects in this priority not only provide young people with qualifications, but the jobs and skills needed for the next generation of work so we can grow our economy here in Denbighshire and create well-paid, skilled jobs.”
The Council has also developed a new volunteering policy to enable a consistent and flexible approach to volunteering across the whole Council.
This includes a new approach to promoting volunteering opportunities for residents within the Council, and clear guidance on how to manage, recruit and support volunteers.
You can find out more about the Corporate Plan 2017-2022 at www.denbighshire.gov.uk/corporate-plan-ambition-achievements