Education Minister opens Six Bells Campus

Kirsty Williams AM meets local children & unveils plaque…

The Welsh Minister for Education Kirsty Williams AM officially opened the new £8million Six Bells Primary Campus in Abertillery today.

The campus is a part of the Abertillery Learning Community, the second 3 – 16 all-through school to be established in Blaenau Gwent. The Six Bells Campus provides first class educational facilities for local children and is the result of partnership working between the Welsh Government’s 21st Century Schools Programme and the Council and replaces two Victorian school buildings.

The school is nestled in the Six Bells valley on the former colliery site, under the watchful eye of the impressive Guardian Memorial. This year marks the 60th anniversary of the underground explosion which killed 45 local men. Sebastien Boysen’s powerful 20m sculpture is a tribute to miners and captures the loss and hope for the future.

The Minister was greeted by the Chairwoman of Blaenau Gwent Council, Cllr Mandy Moore; Chair of Governors Bryan Davies; Executive Member for Education Cllr Joanne Collins; BG Council Managing Director Michelle Morris and Director of Education Lynette Jones. She was then taken on a tour of the campus by Headteacher Meryl Echeverry and Primary Phase Lead, Louisa Tudge, before being treated to a musical performance from pupils who sang ‘We are the Young’ and ‘Psalm 23 - The Lord is My Shepherd’.

The Minister made a speech before unveiling a commemorative plaque in the school’s foyer. Speeches were also made by the Council’s Executive Member Cllr Joanne Collins; Corporate Director for Education, Lynette Jones and the Headteacher of Abertillery Learning Community Meryl Echeverry.

Pupils from the Learning Community presented the Minister with gifts – a ceramic tile depicting the Guardian Memorial made by Year 6 pupil and a home-made bouquet of flowers from the Foundation Phase.

The Minister, Kirsty Williams said:

“It was a pleasure to visit here today and see first-hand the difference the new school is making to both pupils and staff at Six Bells Primary. We’re investing in our school estate through our 21st Century School and Colleges programme so that pupils have surroundings where they can enjoy their primary learning years in an environment that creates better opportunities for learning and wellbeing.
“It’s been a real team effort and the local authority, the community and the hardworking staff should be proud of the inspirational learning environment they’ve created here at Six Bells.” 

The Council’s Executive Member for Education, Cllr Joanne Collins said:

“We were absolutely delighted to welcome the Minister for Education to Blaenau Gwent and to Six Bells today to see our new campus. This is a wonderful vibrant 21st century learning environment and I’m pleased that we have been able to work in partnership with the Welsh Government in order to provide this for the children of the area. We are committed to working closely with the Abertillery Learning Community and all our partners so that we can raise standards and aspirations for all our Abertillery learners and give them the best possible educational start in life.”

Headteacher of Abertillery Learning Community, Meryl Echeverry says:

“I am extremely proud to be the leader of Abertillery Learning Community which has seen the joining together of primary and secondary education to secure excellent progress and achievement in learning for all learners. I lead a strong, dedicated and committed team of professionals who ensure that all learners have access to the highest quality of education. The vision for an all-through education system is both exciting and sector leading, preparing our learners for the modern world, enabling them to be confident, capable, aspirational citizens of the future.”

The Learning Community initially brought together five primary schools and one secondary school under one new organisation, but maintained on separate campuses. The latest build has merged two of those primary schools into the new Six Bells campus with places for 360 pupils, including a nursery.