Pontypridd schools shake-up court ruling faces appeal

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Protest against school closures in Pontypridd in 2019Image source, LDRS
Image caption,
Protesters made their views known when the council voted to approve the reorganisation in 2019

A council is planning to appeal against a court ruling involving a £37m schools shake-up in the south Wales valleys.

The High Court said Rhondda Cynon Taf council failed to refer plans to close sixth forms at Pontypridd and Hawthorn High Schools to the Welsh Government.

The council said it had been following Welsh Government guidelines and claims ministers will support the appeal.

Leader Andrew Morgan pledged to involve communities in plans to improve schools whatever the outcome in court.

Six schools and three sixth-forms are due to close under the reorganisation, replaced by two new "super schools" serving ages three to 16 and a new Welsh-medium school, with extra capacity for sixth-form education being created elsewhere.

The council hoped the new schools would be up and running by September 2022 with two-thirds of funding coming from the Welsh Government, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

However, the High Court said in July the council had breached the School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Act 2013.

A proposal to close the sixth form at Cardinal Newman RC Comprehensive had gone to Education Minister Kirsty Williams for approval but not those for Pontypridd and Hawthorn High Schools, which would close entirely under the shake-up.

The council said it had since had the opportunity to fully review and reflect on that decision and, based on legal advice, it had sought and been granted permission to appeal.

Mr Morgan said he acknowledged the concerns raised by residents, pupils and campaign groups, but insisted the "overriding objective" was to "positively transform the delivery of education" in the Pontypridd area.

He added: "Irrespective of the outcome of any appeal, the council wishes to continue to engage with school governing bodies, pupils and the local communities they serve ... to ensure we continue to improve the educational experience and outcomes of all pupils."

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