A REVIEW of primary education in parts of Carmarthenshire, which could lead to the closure of two schools, is going out to consultation.
Council chiefs have stressed that no closure decisions have been taken and that everybody’s opinions counted.
The areas in question are Mynyddygarreg and Gwenllian, near Kidwelly, and Blaenau and Llandybie, north of Ammanford.
The proposal as it stands is to close Ysgol Mynyddygarreg in 2023 and Ysgol Blaenau in 2024.
If that option were taken forward, both schools would continue operating until then although pupils would be registered to Ysgol Gwenllian and Ysgol Llandybie respectively.
And pupils from all four schools – and other pupils in the area – would benefit from a brand new and larger Ysgol Gwenllian and Ysgol Llandybie.
The council’s Plaid Cymru-Independent executive board voted in favour of a public consultation for a review of education at a meeting on December 21.
Cllr Glynog Davies, executive board member for education and children, was asked by Kidwelly councillor Jeanette Gilasbey to confirm that no decision had been taken about Ysgol Mynyddygarreg.
She also requested that alternative proposals would be looked at, and asked why governing bodies at Ysgol Mynyddygarreg and Ysgol Gwenllian had not been been able to provide their full input, given that they were in the process of moving towards a closer sharing of resources.
Cllr Davies replied: “I can say with hand on heart that no decision has been made regarding the future of Ysgol Mynyddygarreg and Ysgol Gwenllian.
“We are voting to start the process of consultation.”
He added: “Everybody will be able to be part of the process.”
Cllr Davies said council officers had been involved in “informal conversations” with both schools.
Ysgol Mynyddygarreg and Ysgol Blaenau have low pupil numbers – although the former’s were described by Cllr Davies as “consistent” – mixed age classes, budget deficits, and inadequate facilities.
Other executive board members were keen to stress the consultation phase of the process rather than any closure decision.
Cllr Cefin Campbell said: “I know there are cynics out there who are going to suggest that the decision has already been made. I would like to confirm that this is not true.”
A six-week consultation will get underway in the new year, with a report then brought before the executive board for consideration.
At the same meeting, the executive board approved recommendations to:
– Publish a statutory notice to relocate Ysgol Heol Goffa, Llanelli, to a new-build site just under four miles away and increase its capacity from 75 to 120 pupils. Any objections will be reported back to the authority, with full council to determine the proposal at a later date.
– Consult the public on a proposal to remodel behaviour support services at Ysgol Rhydygors special school, Carmarthen. This in turn would lead to the school becoming a pupil referral unit, with more opportunities for learners to link up with mainstream schools, although this process would be done separately to the behaviour support remodelling.
– Formally change the age range of Swansea Valley Primary School from four to 11 to three to 11.
– Shorten the internal school organisation decision-making and determination process, subject to approval by full council, due to delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Cllr Jane Tremlett said Ysgol Rhydygors pupils had historically stayed there until leaving school, and that there was a “stigma” to this exclusion from mainstream learning.
Meanwhile, council leader Emlyn Dole said he had always received a warm welcome at Ysgol Heol Goffa, adding that “exceptional work” took place in circumstances which were “less than perfect in terms of facilities”.