Language campaigners welcome possible reprieve for Abersoch school
Language campaigners have welcomed the fact that a decision to close a Welsh language school in a holiday home hotspot has been called in for reconsideration.
Gwynedd Council unanimously voted in September to close the school on 31 December.
The Education Department had expressed concerns about the low numbers of the school, with 76% of the school capacity empty.
But the decision has now been called in for consideration by the County Council’s Education and Economy Scrutiny Committee which will meet next Thursday 21st October.
A spokeswoman for Cymdeithas yr Iaith’s Education Group said: “We very much welcome the opportunity to revisit the future of Ysgol Abersoch.
“We hope that the Council will now see the future of the school in the context of repossessing and regenerating the local community.
“We ask the Scrutiny Committee to invite representatives from the governors to address them on their exciting plans for the future of the school, and we ask the Committee to recommend that the Cabinet consider working with these enthusiastic local partners rather than abandoning a local community in need.”
As a result of the closure of the school, the plan had been for ten pupils will be offered a place at Ysgol Sarn Bach in the nearby village from January, and the authority is now preparing to improve its transport and learning resources there.
But the Council had received 211 objections to the plans in consultation, with general comments stating that the school “supports village life” and that closing its doors would have a “negative impact on the village and the Welsh language”.
Speaking at the time when the decision was made to close the school, Dewi Wyn Roberts, Councilor for Abersoch, said closing the school would have a “serious impact” on the local community and the Welsh language.
But a Gwynedd Council spokeswoman said that it was the right decision to close it: “Deciding on the future of any school is not easy and the Council understands that this has been a difficult time for everyone involved with Ysgol Abersoch.
“With a capacity of 34, in September 2020 there were eight children attending the school full time and two nursery pupils. The projections do not indicate a significant increase in pupil numbers over the next few years.
“The Council held detailed discussions on the vulnerability of the school due to low pupil numbers. There followed a period of statutory consultation and more recently a period of statutory objection.
“We are grateful to all those who have contributed to the discussions on the future of Ysgol Abersoch including pupils, staff and governors as well as the individuals who have contributed to the statutory consultation and objection periods.
“It is a matter of sadness when the future of any school has to be considered. However, the Council has a duty to ensure that it offers the best possible education and experiences for our children.
“After detailed consideration of all the objections received as part of the statutory objection period, it was decided that Ysgol Abersoch should close at the end of 2021.
“As part of the decision, the pupils will be offered to attend Ysgol Sarn Bach which is located nearby from January 2022 onwards.
“There has been a clear desire in the village of Abersoch to see the continuation of the school, and every effort will be made to ensure that there is a clear link between the Abersoch community and Ysgol Sarn Bach where many Abersoch pupils already attend from Year 4 onwards.”