Wales

Public have their say on Denbighshire school closures

A public consultation has been launched on proposals which could lead to the closure of up to four Denbighshire primary schools.

The consultation concerns the future of primary schools in the Dee Valley West area.

It follows a review of primary school provision which highlighted surplus places in English and Welsh language schools and a national headteacher shortage.

The consultation runs until February.

The schools earmarked for closure are: Ysgol Bro Elwern at Gwyddelwern, Ysgol Carrog, Ysgol Glyndyfrdwy, Ysgol Llandrillo and Ysgol Betws Gwerfyl Goch.

The recommendation is to keep Ysgol Caer Drewyn as the largest school within the area serving Corwen and retain Ysgol Maes Hyfryd as the largest Welsh medium school within the area.

The review was sparked by surplus places in English and Welsh language schools in the area, an amount described by the council as "significant", plus a national shortage of headteachers.

'Suggest alternative options'

The results of the review together with uncertainty over the effect of spending cuts, led to the council's decision to hold a public consultation on closing schools in the area.

An informal consultation has taken place over the past six months with headteachers, chairs of governors and councillors.

Councillor Eryl Williams, cabinet lead member for lifelong learning, said they would listen to alternative options from the public.

"This initial consultation will also provide an opportunity for the public to suggest alternative options that would address the issues highlighted across the area," he said.

"The initial consultation will begin on 8 November and people will have until 18 February 2011 to have their say."

At the end of the consultation period, the council will decide whether to proceed to a formal consultation on a preferred option.

That would be followed by the publication of statutory notices and at least two months to allow any objections.

If objections are received, the matter will be decided by the Welsh Assembly Government.

Delivery of education

Mr Williams added: "We need to educate schools on the difficulties ahead in the future.

"The education system in this area is exceptionally good - we're not talking about poor schools and poor delivery of education, but it's the future delivery of education we want to make sure is maintained within those schools.

"This will be an opportunity for schools to look at themselves and put over why their school is really excellent.

"We need to hear from the parents and the community 'this school is excellent'. It would be detrimental if we change that - we need to hear that voice."

Ashton Crawley is chair of governors at Ysgol Betws Gwerfil Goch, one of the schools under review and says all six of his children have attended the school.

He said the proposals were all about saving money rather than ensuring good education for children.

"They are making it almost impossible to recruit head teachers and this gives them an excuse to close schools," he said.

"If you close the village school you rip the heart out of the village.

"It's a fantastic school and we will prove beyond doubt that this school should stay as it is."

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