23 pupil school to be closed because it’s not big enough to implement new Welsh national curriculum
Elgan Hearn, local democracy reporter
The need to have a school big enough to implement the new national curriculum in Wales has been cited as an important consideration in closing a primary school.
At their meeting today the Independent/Conservative cabinet received a report on the consultation held earlier this year on the proposal to close 23 pupil Castle Caereinion Church in Wales primary school.
At the meeting, education consultant Geraint Rees explained that the new curriculum for Wales is based on six broad areas of learning and experience.
Literacy, numeracy, and digital skills need to be integrated into all lessons. It sets a framework around which individual schools are meant build their own curriculum tailored for their pupils and communities.
Mr Rees said: “The new curriculum needs to be bespoke, the challenge you have is that a small number of learners produces a small number of staff.
“It is a significant task for the teachers across Wales to develop this (curriculum) to ensure that learners have equality of access across all six areas.”
He added that larger schools could “play to a teacher’s strength” by having them look after one of the areas that they could have specialist knowledge in.
Mr Rees added: “In a small school such as this, when there are only two members of staff, you can’t possibly have somebody responsible for six areas.
“We do have to look very carefully at how the new curriculum matches the circumstances of each school. It’s crucial that this becomes a central part of the dialogue.”
Portfolio holder for Finance, Cllr Aled Davies pointed out that the school had two classes and had to teach children from several different year groups in them.
“It is extremely difficult to provide that curriculum in a small school and that should be at the forefront of our minds,” said Cllr Davies.
Last week, the Learning and Skills scrutiny committee had looked at the proposals. While broadly in favour they did bring up a couple of concerns.
Committee chairman, Cllr Pete Roberts, told the cabinet that one of these concerns is that parents who want their children to continue to attend a Church in Wales school – would have “no direct entitlement” to free school transport.
The nearest Church in Wales school is over four miles distant in Welshpool, and there are closer schools.
Education portfolio holder, Cllr Phyl Davies said that this could be “looked at.”
Council leader, Cllr Rosemarie Harris wanted “assurances” that any discussions on school transport would comply with the Schools Organisation Code.
Cllr Davies said that he had received advice from education officers.
“I believe that discussions on discretionary allowances around transport are within the code,” said Cllr Davies.
The cabinet voted unanimously in favour to continue with the process of closing the school by August 31, 2022.
A legal notice will be published in September which starts a 28-day period for people to object to the decision. A report on the objections will then come before the cabinet for a further decision.