Council to review closure of Crickhowell primary school
Powys County Council have confirmed that the planned closure of a small primary school in South Powys could be delayed by 12 months, subject to recommendations put forward to the Council’s new Cabinet.
In March this year the Chronicle reported how members of Powys County Council voted to close Llanbedr Church in Wales school in August 2022 as part of plans to reconfigure and rationalise the primary school provision in the county as part of its Strategy for Transforming Education in Powys 2020-2030.
The decision came despite months of campaigning by parents, pupils and staff to keep the school in Crickhowell open.
However following the recent county council elections, the school may now receive a last-minute reprieve, if recommendations put forward to review school closures in the area are accepted by Powys County Council’s new Cabinet.
Cabinet will be asked to delay implementation of the proposal to close Llanbedr Church in Wales School for 12 months to 31 August 2023, as well as Llanfihangel Rhydithon primary school, and to start a review of all schools in the Crickhowell catchment area.
At a meeting of the Learning and Skills scrutiny committee on Wednesday June 29, councillors and lay-people will look at proposals to keep the schools open. The closure date is now set to be the end of August 2023.
Cllr Pete Roberts, Cabinet Member for a Learning Powys, said: "The new Cabinet has decided to revisit the proposals to close these two schools as we need to carefully consider the wider implications if the proposals are implemented.
"The Welsh Government’s School Organisation Code does allow the council to delay proposals and I will be recommending to Cabinet that we delay the implementation of both closure proposals to 31 August 2023.
"Delaying the closure of Llanbedr Church in Wales School would allow for an area review of the Crickhowell catchment to take place so that a preferred way forward for the whole catchment is identified. If this is approved by Cabinet, a further paper outlining the proposed way forward will be brought to a future Cabinet meeting.
The council’s decision the review the proposal to close the school has been welcomed by parents and staff at the school.
Matt Beecham and his wife Sarah-Jane were recently elected to Powys County Council representing the Crickhowell area.
Following Powys County Council’s decision to review the closure of Llanbedr Primary, Cllr Matt Beecham spoke to the Chronicle, saying: “Cllr. Sarah-Jane and I have fought hard alongside the parents, governors, and Friends of Llanbedr to keep Llanbedr open since the decision to consider closure of the school was made public in February 2021. We welcome the news regarding the stay of execution; however, our community need certainty if the school is to remain viable moving forward.
“Llanbedr Church in Wales is a vibrant, inclusive, and friendly primary school that provides an excellent standard of education to its pupils. The impact of any closure on the Llanbedr community would be catastrophic. In addition, the potential negative impact on the mental health and wellbeing of the children who attend the school needs to be more closely considered.
Chair of Governors for Llanbedr Church in Wales school, Elaine Lusted said: “Of course, we are very pleased with the news that we are not closing at the end of August and that the new Cabinet at Powys County Council will be reviewing school closures in the future. Whilst we understand that the council has to take money saving measures we do not feel that closing an excellent performing school is the best solution.
“The recent Council elections in Powys brought the feelings of the electorate over the closures of these schools in their local communities to the fore and resulted in the complete change in power in Powys and the defeat of some of the main drivers of this policy. We therefore hope that the Liberal Democrats will undertake to fulfil their election pledge to halt the wholesale closures of smaller schools like ours thus ending the prolonged period of uncertainty that our children, parents and staff have endured.
“It is a measure of the good reputation Llanbedr School has that, over this difficult time, our numbers have increased and we continue to have new parents wanting their children to begin their educational journey with us.”
The school closure postponement is expected to be confirmed at a cabinet meeting scheduled for July 5.
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