September 18, 2021

Newyddion Cymru Ar-Lein : Wales News Online

Newyddion Lleol a Chenedlaethol Cymru – Local and National News for Wales

Parents unhappy with primary school closure plan

A PARENT who attended a closure-threatened primary school fears the community could slide into decline if it shuts.

The woman has a child at Ysgol Mynydd-y-Garreg, near Kidwelly, and fond memories of her time at the village school some 30 years ago.

Carmarthenshire Council’s executive board will take a decision this month on whether to proceed with a plan to discontinue the Meinciau Road school at the end of August next year.

This would not mean the school closing then, but pupils would have to relocate in 2023 to a new Ysgol Gwenllian, Kidwelly.

The mother, who asked not to be named, said the village had lost a hotel, pubs and a post office.

“The school’s position in the community is massive,” she said. “It is the focal point. Without the school, the community will just go into decline.”

She said she felt her opposition to the county council’s plans were shared among other parents, although she fully supported the new Ysgol Gwenllian for Kidwelly.

A council report on the closure proposal said Ysgol Mynydd-y-Garreg pupils were taught in mixed-age classes, and that the school only had 36 pupils as of January this year but 55 places.

The mother said mixed-age classes were nothing new, that pupil numbers had grown over the last couple of years, and that more houses were being built in the village.

Meanwhile, Kidwelly town councillors have voted unanimously to urge the county council to reverse the closure proposal.

In a statement, the town council said: “The closure of the school would decimate the community in Mynydygarreg.

“A community impact assessment written as part of the school closure bid does not seem to mention the impact to the community of Mynyddygarreg.”

It said school governors and parents were unhappy, and added: “The new build for Ysgol Gwenllian two miles away is across a busy bypass, which has no safe crossing, active travel links or even pavements.”

No firm decisions have been taken as yet. The proposal, as it stands, is to:

– Discontinue Ysgol Mynydd-y-Garreg at the end of August 2021

– From September, all pupils to be registered at Gwenllian primary, which would operate on both sites and increase its capacity

– Relocate Gwenllian primary to a new site and increase its capacity to 210 pupil and 30 nursery places, with the new school ready in 2023.

Parents and the wider community would be consulted at different stages.

In response to the concerns raised by the town council, Cllr Glynog Davies, who has the education portfolio, said the county council had a legal responsibility to review the number and type of schools it has, and ensure it was making the best use of the resources and facilities for the benefit of pupils.

He said Ysgol Mynydd-y-Garreg and Ysgol Gwenllian were already working very closely, and sharing a headteacher.

Cllr Davies said: “Unfortunately, the financial position of Ysgol Mynydd-y-Garreg means that it is unsustainable. The school has capacity for 55 pupils but figures for January 2020 showed that it had just 36 pupils; and of the 113 pupils living within the catchment area, only 22 attended the school.

“Having such a small number of pupils and mixed age classes makes it extremely difficult for the school to deliver the breadth and depth of curricular and social experiences which pupils of this age require to fully develop.

“Pupil numbers at Ysgol Gwenllian have remained constant but we expect the numbers to increase, and the school building, like Ysgol Mynydd-y-Garreg, is in poor condition and there is a lack of adequate space.

“Officers from the education department will be holding informal consultation events with parents from next week to give them the opportunity to ask questions.”

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