Pupils could be lost over the border to Shropshire if school closes, councillor claims
Elgan Hearn, local democracy reporter
If a school closes, pupils could be lost over the border to Shropshire primary schools, a cabinet member has warned.
Finance portfolio holder, Cllr Aled Davies who represents Llansilin made the claim as Powys County Council’s Independent/Conservative cabinet revisited the reorganisation of primary schools in the Llanfyllin catchment area at their meeting on Tuesday, July 13.
They were looking at a report which recommended starting the closure process for Ysgol Bro Cynllaith primary school in Llansilin.
They were also told of a U-Turn on proposals that would have seen Ysgol Pennant in Pen-y-bont Fawr close with Ysgol Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant take their pupils and become a Welsh medium school.
Cllr Aled Davies said: “Ysgol Bro Cynllaith is in one of the furthest flung corners of Powys and the residents of that area are equally entitled to a great education for our children.”
He said that the discussion on the new National Curriculum of Wales had pointed out issues in implementing it in small schools.
Cllr Davies said: “When it boils down, I think it’s correct to go to consultation.
“The Bro Cynllaith numbers are very similar to Castle Caereinion, however there are some key issues that need to be drawn out,
“You can see the English border from the classroom window, and for 75 per cent of the pupils, their closest school would be in Shropshire.
“I get a sense that there would a significant movement of children away from the Welsh education system to a Shropshire school because they are much nearer than a Powys school.
“These decisions are extremely difficult for schools down the border.”
School transformation manager, Marianne Evans, explained: “In terms of Ysgol Pennant we will continue to monitor pupil numbers and if any issues with leadership arise, we will look at the school again.
“In terms of Ysgol Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant a dual stream school, we will continue to work and support with the school to move it along the language continuum.”
“The challenges faced by Ysgol Bro Cynllaith as a small school we are recommending moving to consult on a proposal to close that school.”
An added problem to the process in this part of the county, is that the nearest Powys school is Llangedwyn Church in Wales Primary School, which is less than four miles away.
But in March the cabinet voted to start the closure process for Llangedwyn.
As Llangedwyn’s future is uncertain and if that closes, Cllr Davies said that children from Llansilin would face a journey of “as much as 75 minutes” to Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant which is 6.2 miles away.
Another option is Llanfyllin iteslf, which is 8.3 miles away.
Cllr Davies said: “The bus to Llanfyllin comes past at 7.30am, that would give a very long day for four- and five-year-olds.
“I just wish further options were explored.”
He believed that suggestions would come out of the consultation process.
The report shows that the school currently has 24 pupils which is half of its capacity.
A saving of £81,300 would be made if the school closed.
Primary schools in Trefonen, Woodside (Oswestry), and Selattyn all in Shropshire as well as Llanarmon in Wrexham County Borough, are closer to Llansilin than Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant is.
Cabinet voted unanimously to star the school closure process and a consultation on proposals will start soon.