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Council defends closing Welsh medium school following ‘betrayal’ accusation

14 Jul 2021 4 minutes Read
Ysgol Abersoch. Picture by Jordan Everitt

A council has defended closing a Welsh medium school following an accusation of “betrayal”.

Gwynedd Council for was responding to comments from Abersoch councillor Dewi Wyn Roberts, who hit out at the decision to shut down Ysgol Gynradd Abersoch in the village.

Cllr Roberts branded the move a “betrayal” of the “language and culture” and said goes against the wishes of the school governors, its teachers, its head teacher, and the pupils.

But Gwynedd Council the decision followed “detailed discussions” about the school’s “vulnerable position”.

Though the school has a capacity of 32, it currently only has 8 students, which means 76% of the places are empty. Places will be provided for its pupils at Ysgol Sarn Bach from January 2022.

The council has estimated that the cost per pupil would drop from £17,404 to £4,683 by the move.

It also argues that this will lead to children being educated in more appropriate class sizes.

A Gwynedd Council spokesperson said: “In its meeting on 15 June Gwynedd Council’s Cabinet supported a recommendation to issue a statutory notice on the proposal to close Ysgol Abersoch on 31 December 2021, and provide a place for pupils at Ysgol Sarn Bach from January 2022.

“This followed detailed discussions regarding the school’s vulnerable situation due to the small number of pupils and discussions on various options on how to respond to the situation with the school’s governing body, staff and parents, followed by a statutory consultation on the proposal.

“Ysgol Abersoch has a capacity for 32 pupils, but with only 8 children attending full time and two nursery pupils, 76% of the school is empty.

“Projections do not indicate that there will be a significant increase in pupil numbers at Ysgol Abersoch over the next few years.

“The Council has a duty to ensure that we provide the best possible education and experiences along with the best possible learning environment for our children.

“That is why we carried out a statutory consultation on the proposal, with full consideration given to the comments received during the process.

“We are grateful to everyone who contributed to the statutory consultation, including pupils, staff and governors of Ysgol Abersoch.

“As part of the proposal, pupils would be offered the opportunity to attend nearby Ysgol Sarn Bach from January 2022.

“Naturally there has been a desire in the village to see the school continue, and every effort will be made to ensure that there will be a strong link between Ysgol Sarn Bach, where many pupils are already attending from Key Stage 2 age, and the Abersoch community.

“Following the Cabinet’s recent decision, an objection period is currently being held on the proposal to close Ysgol Abersoch on 31 December 2021, and provide a place for the pupils at Ysgol Sarn Bach from 1 January 2022.

“The objection period will run between 25 June and 23 July allowing an opportunity for anyone to submit formal objections to the proposal.”

‘Disappointed’ 

Dewi Wyn Roberts told Golwg360: “I’m very disappointed that [Gwynedd Council] has come to the decision to close the school for a few reasons to tell the truth.

“To being with, it takes away the offer to give the children an education within the village. Quite a bit has been said about this, and that this is being done in the children’s best interest.

“I don’t believe this is best for the children. I don’t think they have been able to present evidence to [show] that.

“There is talk that they did it because the number in the classroom is small, and that there is a mixture of ages in that class.

“But the truth is, what they’re offering instead of that is something similar. There is a mixture of ages in Ysgol Sarn Bach [where the children will be moved] too.

“I’m very disappointed that [Gwynedd Council] has come to the decision to close the school for a few reasons to tell the truth.

“To being with, it takes away the offer to give the children an education within the village. Quite a bit has been said about this, and that this is being done in the children’s best interest.

“I don’t believe this is best for the children. I don’t think they have been able to present evidence to [show] that.

“There is talk that they did it because the number in the classroom is small, and that there is a mixture of ages in that class.

“But the truth is, what they’re offering instead of that is something similar. There is a mixture of ages in Ysgol Sarn Bach [where the children will be moved] too.”

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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
3 months ago

I went to a two room National School…best school I ever went to, the lessons the headmaster taught me have stayed with me all my life and had nothing to do with the three ‘R’s’!

Llywelyn ein Llyw Nesaf
Llywelyn ein Llyw Nesaf
3 months ago

Let’s get back to basics. WHY are there only 8 pupils in the school in a catchment with over 900 houses? In 2011 there were over 900 dwellings in Abersoch, but only half were ‘usually occupied’, and there were only 26 children in the 5-9 range. That compares with a similar sized ward in Ceredigion, 900+ dwellings and 86 children aged 5-9. I’m sure the numbers are even worse now. If we want our communities to live, with schools, shops, pubs, chapels, clubs, we need PEOPLE to live there. To keep schools open we need families to live there. Welsh… Read more »

j humphrys
j humphrys
3 months ago

Now it’s, school after school closes. It should be council after council close to save money to keep schools open.
I remember when Kirsi Pakkanen bought Marimekko, the management told her there would have to be worker and artist lay-offs. So she got rid of a bunch of management
instead.

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