The Montgomeryshire Liberal Democrats have called on Powys County Council to review its school’s transformation programme immediately. The party has launched a petition that it intends to present to Powys County Council highlighting that in line with Welsh law, school closure should be a last resort and that other alternatives, such as clustering, federating and resource-sharing, should be the preferred option.
Over recent months several schools in Montgomeryshire have been told they may face closure including: Churchstoke County Primary School; Castle Caereinion Church in Wales School; Llanfechain & Llangedwyn Church in Wales School, Ysgol Pennant in Penybontfawr; Ysgol Bro Cynllaith in Llansilin; Llandysilio Church in Wales School; Carreghofa County Primary School in Llanymynech; Arddleen County Primary School and Ysgol Brynhafren in Crewgreen.
Commenting Alison Alexander, the Welsh Liberal Democrat candidate for the Senedd said: “In the middle of a pandemic, this ‘schools transformation programme’ is resulting in unprecedented upheaval, the Tory-Independent Cabinet continues to prepare plans that would inevitably cause more disturbance for children if they were to go ahead.
“This comes in spite of Liberal Democrat Education Minister Kirsty Williams MS introducing legislation in 2016 to specifically to protect rural schools from closure under the Schools Organisation Code.
“The Lib Dems would work very closely with communities to find other alternatives, like federations, resource-sharing and clusters, that have the interests of staff, pupils and families as their top priority.
“Powys County Council has given out a message that the wellbeing of staff and pupils during the pandemic is a priority. Yet those in charge of the reorganization programme have announced potential school closures and job losses by press release without considering the impact this has on people’s lives.
“As for the reorganization itself, how can the Authority run a thorough consultation on any plans – to really understand their impact on communities – when we’re all being discouraged from meeting face-to-face and many households are prevented from taking part in virtual meetings because of inadequate internet access?
“How devastating for teachers who have been working flat out to give children an education in tremendously difficult circumstances to be told their jobs may be under threat.
“Finally, the lockdowns have shown us that many people can work remotely from home. In the next few years, we could well see more people wanting to bring up their families in rural settings and then we’ll have an even greater need for village schools.
“This is why we have decided to launch a united petition to present to the Conservative-Independent Council calling on them to immediately review their school’s transformation programme which can be found below: