COMMUNITIES are being urged to “stand together” to protect the future of secondary schools in Montgomeryshire – currently under threat by the council.
A series of consultations is due to start next week when the public will have a chance to voice any concerns over Powys County Council’s plan to close a “sufficient number” of the region’s secondary schools.
This was after Powys County Council’s cabinet supported recommendations made by consultants Price Waterhouse Cooper in January that a “sufficient number” are to be closed due to falling pupil number and spending cuts – this was changed by councillors from the three proposed in the consultants’ report.
Four areas were identified for change as part of the secondary school and post-16 reorganisation programme.
These included the review of secondary education in mid Powys and the review of secondary education in north Powys, with a focus on Welsh-medium provision.
A council spokesman said: “Work on the first three priorities has already started and the council has just started work on priority four by commissioning a two part review of secondary education in north Powys.
“The review will determine whether or not there is a need for a Welsh-medium secondary school or schools in north Powys and make recommendations about the future configuration of secondary education in the region.”
Assembly Member for Montgomeryshire Russell George warned that any school closures could mean children spending less time in the classroom and more time on school buses.
He said: “Powys County Council is currently considering closing secondary schools, meaning that students may spend a good proportion of their educational day on a bus rather than in the classroom. This has the potential to penalise those who live in more rural parts of Montgomeryshire and who will have to travel long distances to attend school.”
“I will be seeking assurances from the county council that they have taken into account more than just the financial viability of secondary school provision in the county when coming to a decision on the future of schools.
“I don’t believe that any secondary school in Montgomeryshire should be closed”
His views were supported by Mary Compton, of Save Powys Schools, who urged communities to stand together in opposing any changes.
She added: “Having paid £105,000 to Price Waterhouse Cooper to produce a plan for Powys secondary schools, which reaches the conclusion that in 20 years time the only ‘sustainable’ solution for education in the county is to have five secondary schools, PCC is moving its way through the county closing schools and sixth forms.
“The Brecon and Gwernyfed schools in South Powys only heard about plans to close them and hand their sixth forms over to the semi-privatised Neath Port Talbot College Group the day before the press.
“A strong community campaign has been launched to prevent this happening. Next on the hit list are Builth and Llandrindod High Schools and now PCC has got a company called Spectrum to look at plans to ‘reconfigure’ secondary education in North Powys.
“At Save Powys Schools, we urge all communities to stand together against these plans, which will cause devastation throughout the county.
“While PCC claim that the closures are about ‘transformation’, they are in fact about massive budget cuts. What our councillors should be doing is joining with us to fight these cuts both at Cardiff and Westminster.”
Where to have your say on education plans:
Where to have your say on secondary education changes.
Drop-in sessions will be held for parents and interested parties between 6pm and 9pm at the following locations:
June 24, Welshpool High School
June 29, Llanidloes High School
June 30, Llanfyllin High School
July 1, Newtown High School
July 2, Ysgol Bro Hyddgen, Secondary Campus
July 8, Caereinion High School
Anyone unable to attend can give their views on the current secondary provision in north Powys by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by writing to the School Modernisation Team at County Hall, Llandrindod Wells, Powys, LD1 5LG.