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Ysgol Gyfun Garth Olwg started life as the first Welsh medium school in South Wales. Ysgol Rhydfelen was established in 1962 in Rhydyfelin, Pontypridd. The first Welsh medium school had been established in Rhyl, North Wales in 1956 – Ysgol Glan Clwyd. Ysgol Rhydfelen was opened to meet the demands for the provision of secondary education through the medium of Welsh for the pupils of the Cardiff and Pontypridd areas. In the first year 80 pupils were on the school roll and many doubted whether the school would succeed.

The first Headteacher of Ysgol Gyfun Rhydfelen was Mr. Gwilym Humphreys. He was born in Wallasey, England, the son of a Presbyterian Minister and spent much of his younger years in the mining village of Rhosllannerchrugog near Wrexham. His autobiography “Heyrn yn y Gwaed” recalls the early days of establishing Ysgol Gyfun Rhydfelen as a centre of educational excellence and a bastion of Welsh culture and language.

The school was originally housed in buildings from the days of the Great War. As the school grew in popularity, extensive use was made of ‘portocabins’ to accommodate the growing numbers. The school buildings, however, were not of a suitable standard and in 2006, the school moved to its new site on the Garth Olwg Campus in Church Village. In 2007 the old school site was demolished.  



Today approximately 850 students are on the school roll, including 154 students studying in sixth form. About 95% of pupils come from homes where the main language is English.

The school building consists of five blocks: Berthlwyd, Celyn, Drysgoed, Maendy and Pentwyn.

The school currently has five feeder primary schools. They are:
• Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Castellau (Beddau),
• Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Evan James (Pontypridd),
• Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Garth Olwg (Church Village),
• Ysgol Gynradd Heol-y-Celyn (Rhydyfelin),
• Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Pont Sion Norton.(Pontypridd).
Pupils also transfer from
• Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Gwaelod y Garth