Council rejects claims of rural schools closures
Dale Spridgeon, local democracy reporter
A council chief has quashed rumours that his authority is discussing plans to close 14 rural schools by 2030.
The issue came to light after Welsh language campaigners had encouraged island residents to query the council’s commitment to its rural schools and communities during the recent Anglesey Show.
It came after a draft strategy had been put forward by Anglesey Council in May, and which Cymdeithas yr Iaith had claimed could spell the beginning of the end for some primaries.
A later statement on Cymdeithas yr Iaith’s website had said: “An internal document from the county council has come into the possession of the association which, it seems, recommends closing 14 primary schools before the end of the decade, and creating three new schools to centralise education.”
Its leader had also stated it was “ difficult for the group to believe the document was genuine.” However it had still encouraged the public to visit the county council’s unit to ask about the issue during its presence at the Mona showground, between August 15-16.
Robat Idris, national chairman of the association, stated: “It is difficult for us to believe that the document which has reached us through an unknown source is genuine as it recommends undermining the rural Welsh communities of the county in a manner completely contrary to central government policy.
“According to the document, the intention once again is the closure of over a dozen of the county’s Welsh language rural schools by 2030.
“It is hard to believe that there is substance to the document as the vast majority of schools are on the Government’s official list of rural schools to be protected and the School Organisation Code the Government is setting a presumption in favour of keeping rural schools open.
“Closing them would mean that there would only be a handful of rural schools left from their list in Anglesey, which would inevitably lead to the centralisation of education provision. It would hardly be the Government allows such contempt for its policy.”
The group’s main worry, was the “contempt it would show towards the county’s Welsh-speaking rural communities, the same communities that form the basis of such a successful event as the Anglesey Show. Implementing a policy of such, means that young families stop settling in our rural communities, and the Welsh language would become more and more limited to the school classroom. In practice the Council would set an example of abandoning rural communities.
“We very much hope that the document that was delivered to us is some insignificant position paper but we call on the public to ask the council if there is any basis for it.” Since then, rumours have circulated on social media.
But in a statement Anglesey County Council’s Chief Executive, Dylan J Williams, stated: “There is no discussion to close over 14 primary schools by 2030, as is alleged by Cymdeithas yr Iaith.”
“Our School Modernisation and Welsh Language strategy has been formed in order to establish learning communities that are suitable for the next thirty years.
“This is in order to ensure the best possible opportunities for our children, young people and the Welsh language.”
“As an authority, we will continue to conform with all Welsh Government expectations.”
The council also stated, all the comments that the Council received during the formal consultation process were considered alongside all responses on the draft strategy.
“We reemphasise that there have been no discussions to close over 14 primary schools by 2030 and that there is no internal paper as was alleged by Cymdeithas yr Iaith.”
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