A group of concerned parents has launched a petition after learning that 17 children out of 47 applicants were denied places at Gilwern Primary School due to a shortage of availability. The news has sparked distress among families, particularly those residing in the school's catchment area.

Parents have cited the closure of neighbouring Darenfelin and Clydach schools as a contributing factor to the pressure on local schools, leading to over-subscription issues.

According to a spokesperson from the Gilwern Hopeful Parents Group, the reassurance that Gilwern Primary would be the feeder school for many families has been shattered.

"The emotional, logistical, financial, and environmental impact of this is huge," the spokesperson stated. "The still unfinished King Henry Super school is not a viable option for many in the village. For this to be prioritized over an established and respected school, in an area growing in population, is unacceptable."

The group also expressed concern that children denied places at Gilwern Primary are missing out on the familiarity, friendships, and support networks established within their community.

Indeed, the group have claimed that a large majority of those who have been rejected have siblings and/or parents as staff at the school; whilst others have attended Hopscotch Primary, which resides on the same site as Gilwern Primary.

They emphasised the importance of children remaining within the communities they have grown up in for their well-being and family balance; especially considering the social isolation that accompanied the first few years of these children's lives.

“Regardless of the admissions criteria, it is distressing that these children do not have a place in their local school or with their siblings. They have grown up seeing the older children go into Gilwern Primary, they are familiar with the site.

“They have formed friendships and bonds with their peers. Parents have formed support networks that are vital to balance family life with work, especially for those of us without family support.”

With their petition, the group hope to find a resolution to the issue at hand, whilst also shedding light on the need of support for community schools to ensure all children have access to education within their communities.

"We hope that we can show how important this issue is and encourage our local councillors to ensure small, successful schools are supported and communities are listened to," the spokesperson added. "We hope that we can persuade them to allow the extra class that Gilwern Primary is willing and able to accommodate."

Monmouthshire County Council responded, acknowledging the disappointment of families and the increased demand for places at Gilwern Primary this year.

A spokesperson from MCC, said: "We recognise that a number of families who applied for Gilwern Primary School will be disappointed by the outcome of this year's application round. This year, there have been more applications to Gilwern Primary School than there are available places. We have seen greater demand this year, with 47 requests for 30 available places.

“In such circumstances, the Council's School Admissions Policy determines that the published oversubscription criteria will be applied to select the successful applicants. Unfortunately, 17 applicants have been unsuccessful in obtaining places after applying the oversubscription criteria.

“The accommodation at Gilwern Primary School is currently suitable for 210 pupils and 30 per year group. The Council is also aware of the requirements to comply with Infant class size regulations, which state that there must be no more than 30 children in an infant class where there is only one qualified teacher. 

“We will continue to support the 17 families that have been unsuccessful in obtaining places at Gilwern Primary School and have already identified school places for each child at alternative schools within the Abergavenny cluster.”