Mid Wales

Powys secondary schools shake-up wider vote motion lost

A move for every councillor in Powys to have a vote on the future of secondary education in the county has been lost.

Under plans before the council, some of the county's 13 high schools could merge and sixth forms could close.

The Conservative opposition called for the decision to be made by all 73 councillors rather than just the 10 members of the council's cabinet.

But the motion was defeated by three votes at a meeting. The cabinet will discuss the schools plan next month.

Protesters against the reorganisation in the county's education sector gathered outside Powys council's headquarters on Monday as councillors argued over who should have the final say on the plans.

Ten councillors backed a motion proposed by Coun Gareth Ratcliffe calling for any final decision on secondary schools modernisation to be made by the full council.

It was seconded by Coun Sarah Millington.

It follows a decision last December to radically transform secondary education, but a number of key votes have yet to be taken.

All 13 secondary schools will remain open, but some could merge, leaving seven or eight operating across the 13 sites.

Powys, which only moved to a cabinet system in May, is controlled by a Powys Independent Alliance and Welsh Liberal Democrat coalition.

Before the meeting, council leader Michael Jones said the cabinet was designed to ensure decisions were made efficiently, and had the support of the majority.

He said: "Having established and approved a cabinet system to take strategic decisions, it does not seem logical to then challenge its right to consider one of the most important decisions faced by the council."

Among the proposals:

  • The council has plans to streamline school management, which could lead to one head teacher responsible for three schools.
  • Teaching posts could also be lost through retirement or voluntary redundancies
  • Pre-16 Welsh-medium education could be reorganised across three sites.
  • Proposals for post-16 schooling include stripping schools of their sixth forms and opening sixth form centres.
  • The county's further education college, Coleg Powys, could also be given responsibility for sixth forms.

A consultation process was held earlier this year.

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