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Most expensive primary in Wales set to close with only nine pupils

27 May 2024 4 minute read
Ysgol Carreglefn. Image: Eric Jones

Dale Spridgeon, local democracy reporter

A Welsh language school with only nine pupils which has been dubbed ‘Wales’ most expensive primary school’ has been approved for closure.

Ysgol Gymuned Carreglefn, near Amlwch on Anglesey, only has nine pupils, each costing Anglesey Council £17,200.

This was more than three times higher than the average cost per pupil for Anglesey of £5,240, a council report stated.

Unanimous vote

The Isle of Anglesey County Council’s executive voted unanimously to close the school later this summer, during its meeting on Thursday, May 23.

Pupils will now be transferred to Ysgol Gymuned Llanfechell, which is about two miles away.

A report noted that the school had an 80% surplus of places and that of the nine pupils currently attending – four were in year six.

A school forecast had predicted only five or less pupils attending from September 2024 onwards.

The report also noted that the school had seen difficulty in appointing a headteacher and currently shared its head with another school.

“The headteacher is only on the school site for two days per week, whilst the deputy leads the school for the remaining three days of the week,” it stated.

The council had published a statutory notice requirement and a 28 day period had passed.

The objection period had started from March 1 and concluded on April 2, with eight messages of objection received.

A “face-to-face session” had also been held with pupils at the school, who had been given a chance to share their views.

A teacher had sent an email to the council, which included an appendix with seven replies from the children, and responses were also received from the governing body.

A community council had also communicated its praise for “the good work of the school and staff” but had not objected.

Councillor Dafydd Roberts, the council’s education and the Welsh language portfolio holder, said closing a school with less than 10 pupils had been a “simpler process”.

He added: “But at the end of a chapter like this, I would like to thank every member of staff, governor, parents and the wider community which has ensured that Ysgol Careglefn has continued over the period.”

Future use

Cllr Gary Pritchard said that closing schools was “never an easy process”.

He said: “May I echo those thanks of Cllr Dafydd Roberts, not only to the department and officers but also to the community of the school and the wider community of Carreglefn for the respectful way they have dealt with the process.”

He “looked forward” to working with the community to ensure a future use for the school building.

Cllr Carwyn Jones added: “I’d like to echo those thanks to the staff for their work over the years, and thank the school for giving opportunities to the young people over the years, I wish them well for the future, and thanks also to the governors for their work over the years supporting the school.

“I know the feeling, when I sat here in 2013 as a governor and the local member for Llanddona, the school closed with 13 children.

“What we did then, as a community we came together to see what we could do for Llanddona, for the future, and in 2019 we opened the new community centre for the village.

“It has been good for Llanddona, so as one door closes…maybe it’s time for the community to think what other doors we can open in the future.”

Council leader Cllr Llinos Medi, the local member, also said the community had been “respectful in the discussion” and had understood the reasoning “because there would be only five children there in September”.

She added they would continue to discuss with the community regarding resources and maintaining community activities in the village.

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