Council to consider school closures U-turn

Four Anglesey primary schools earmarked for closure are set to win a reprieve.

Anglesey Council’s executive will decide later this month whether to revoke its decisions on a shake-up of primary education in the Llangefni and Seiriol areas, amid concerns over how the consultation process was handled.

Last month, Education Minister, Kirsty Williams, announced she was considering whether to investigate a complaint against the council’s plans to shut Ysgol Boddfordd.

It was alleged the local authority had ignored guidelines introduced last November aimed at offering more protection to rural schools.

If the council’s executive agrees to scrap its plans, any fresh consultation on future proposals would have to comply with the Welsh Government’s School Organisation Code 2018.

Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg said it ‘warmly welcomed’ the council’s announcement.

A U-turn would hand a reprieve to both Ysgol Bodffordd and Ysgol Corn Hir, which are due to be replaced with a multi-million pound ‘superschool’ in nearby Llangefni.

Last summer, campaigners fighting the decision to close Bodffordd handed in a 5,000-strong petition to the Welsh Assembly.

The council’s other plans include closing Ysgol Talwrn and moving pupils to an expanded Ysgol y Graig. Ysgol Beaumaris is also earmarked to close – with Ysgol Llangoed and Ysgol Llandegfan due to be refurbished and extended.

So far, two consultations have been held on a shake-up of Llangefni’s primary schools – the council ended up reconsidering some of its proposals after securing £18 million for modernising education facilities from the Welsh Government.

In a statement on Friday, a council spokesperson said officers would ask the executive to rescind its decisions following an internal review: ”The aim of the modernisation programme is to create the best possible educational environment for head teachers, teachers and children to succeed and thereby promote high standards.”

”The process has been a very challenging one and has meant difficult decisions with regard to the rationalisation of schools in order to build new schools for future generations.”

”So far, three new 21st century primary schools have been built and opened in Holyhead, Llanfaethlu and Newborough – an investment of £22 million in education on the island.”

Reacting to the announcement, Cymdeithas education spokesperson Ffred Fransis described the decision not to close Bodffordd as ”great news for the local community”.

He said: ”We congratulate the parents and local campaigners, who are an inspiration to people across the country. We encourage Anglesey Council to engage positively with parents and the community to develop the school.”

”Education Minister Kirsty Williams also deserves praise for agreeing to carry out an investigation that has led to the u-turn…I hope that this is a clear indication to authorities across Wales that they need to take the new code, and the presumption in favor of keeping small schools open, seriously.”

”We want the new school in Llangefni to go ahead following this: the council should not try to suggest that there is competition between local communities.”

The council executive will meet next on Monday 20th May.

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