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Powys Council reconsider merging schools in Llanfair Caereinion

POWYS Council’s cabinet will have to take another look at proposals to merge schools in Llanfair Caereinion.

On Monday, February 1, Powys County Council’s learning and skills scrutiny committee looked at the proposal after it had been formally called in on the basis that the decision was “flawed.”

And members voted to send the decision back to the council’s cabinet so it can be reconsidered.

The Independent/Conservative cabinet had agreed to merge Llanfair Caereinion Primary School and Caereinion High School, creating an all-through four to 18-year-olds’ school, at a meeting on January 12.

They had also agreed to explore the further development of Welsh language education and also including primary schools in the wider catchment area as part of this consultation.

Cllr Bryn Davies, (Llanwddyn – Plaid Cymru) argued that the Welsh in Education Strategic Plan (WESP) that the cabinet endorsed 18 months ago had already shown that a Welsh Medium school for Montgomeryshire or the Severn Valley should be in Newtown or Welshpool.

The cabinet’s decision would have put transforming Llanfair Caereinion into the Welsh Medium school for Montgomeryshire into pole position for future reorganisation.

Cllr Davies said:  “It doesn’t help education in Llanfair, it doesn’t increase the numbers in the English or Welsh stream, so the options available to those children aren’t improving.

“We’ve been told the evidence in favour of this was good, I’m reading the answer was 52.3 per cent.”

He explained that back in 1989, Llanfair Caereinion was told it needed to accept pupils from the Welsh school in Newtown or face closure.

Cllr Davies added:

“The governors accepted the pupils from Dafydd Llwyd in Newtown who have been going there for over 20 years.

“Those numbers are dwindling now because they are not getting the provision that they need.”

Cllr Kath Roberts-Jones (Independent – Kerry) believed that the decision was “not ideal but it’s a step forward”, and better than going around in circles with no decisions being made.

Cllr Sandra Davies, (Cwm-Twrch – Labour), said: “I would have thought this process would have been the transformation of the whole area not just two schools.

“The consultation has only been on a fraction of what should have been the bigger picture for the area.”

Education portfolio holder, Cllr Phyl Davies, (Blaen Hafren – Conservative) said:

“I understand we need to do more in this area, this is not the end game for the wider catchment area.”

“This is the schools wanting to move along this journey.

“If we start again we would need a new consultation, we can’t change this decision as nothing else was consulted on.”

“It’s either do it or not, I’m very frustrated.”

At the end of the meeting, members voted by six to five to send the decision back to the cabinet to be reconsidered.

It is expected to be discussed again at their next meeting on Tuesday, February 9.

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