Plans approved to close school with just eight pupils
Dale Spridgeon, local democracy reporter
Senior councillors have approved plans to close a school with just eight pupils, at the end of the year.
Cyngor Gwynedd’s Cabinet agreed to a proposal to close Ysgol Felinwnda in Llanwnda, near Caernarfon, as of December 31, 2023.
In a statement Cyngor Gwynedd said Ysgol Felinwnda had the fewest number of learners in the county with only eight in attendance.
The authority is offering current pupils places at either Ysgol Bontnewydd or Ysgol Llandwrog from January, 2024, depending on parental choice.
The closure comes following “a significant decline” in numbers over the past 10 years – from 31 pupils in 2012 to eight in 2022, with only three of the eight living within the school catchment area.
The county’s education authority said it decided to close Ysgol Felinwnda due to factors including the low number of learners and projections of pupil numbers remaining “vulnerable”.
There were only two classes – with three learners in one and five in the other (January 2023). Both classes had an age range of three or more years.
The decision to close Ysgol Felinwnda follows detailed discussions with the children, staff, parents, Llanwnda Community Council and the wider community and a statutory objection period in which four objections to the recommendation were received.
Councillor Beca Brown, Cyngor Gwynedd’s Cabinet Member for Education, said: “The decision to close Ysgol Felinwnda comes with great sadness and signifies the end of an incredibly difficult time for learners, parents, teachers and everyone involved.
“Over the years, Ysgol Felinwnda has provided a world-class education for generations of local children, and I would like to thank the staff, former staff, governors and former governors for their dedication and relentless work over the decades.
“Having said this, it is our duty as a Council to provide our children with the best possible education, experiences and learning environment; allowing them to develop into well-rounded bilingual citizens. With this in mind, as a Cabinet, we are unanimous in the view that this difficult decision is the right one.
“I would like to thank everyone locally who has contributed to the discussion including the pupils, staff and governors and the wider community.
“We have listened to the comments and aspirations of local people during engagement sessions at Felinwnda, Bontnewydd and Llandwrog.
“As a result of the comments made, Felinwnda pupils and their parents will be able to choose to attend either Ysgol Bontnewydd or Ysgol Llandwrog and there will be a separate consultation on the catchment area boundaries of the schools adjoining Felinwnda’s existing catchment area.
“Our priority now will be to ensure that Felinwnda learners receive all the practical and emotional support they need to settle into their new schools. We will also continue to support and collaborate with the local county councillors, Llanwnda Community Council and the local community.”
Current Ysgol Felinwnda pupils living in the school catchment area will be eligible for free transport to Ysgol Bontnewydd or Ysgol Llandwrog for the remainder of their time at one of those schools, in accordance with Cyngor Gwynedd’s transport policy.
A separate consultation will be held on the future of Ysgol Felinwnda’s current catchment area to agree which school, or schools, will serve as a catchment school for the children of Ysgol Felinwnda’s current catchment area into the future.
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