Anger as parents meet over Gaer schools merger
11:20am Sunday 13th January 2013 in News
A MEETING at Newport's Gaer Infants School on saw tempers flare between parents and councillors.
Parents and governors at the school are preparing to fight proposals to amalgamate the infant and junior schools to make space for an Autistic Spectrum Disorder special school in the infants building.
The proposals are part of plans to amalgamate four city schools to tackle falling pupil numbers.
Gaer councillors Debbie Wilcox, Herbie Thomas and Mark Whitcutt all attended the meeting on Thursday - along with 42 other people.
Parents are worried their children's education will suffer if they are "crammed" into the junior school building.
When parents asked Cllr Whitcutt if he was on their side, he said he would put their issues to the council, but that in his opinion a combined infant and junior school was better for children.
Cllr Thomas was forced to step in as angry parents shouted at Cllr Whitcutt.
Cllr Whitcutt then said: "I'm not here to tell you what you want to hear."
Parent Maria Farrelly has a son in both the Infant and Junior schools. She said: "What is the point of having a representative to represent us if he does not support our views? How can he represent them properly?
"How can they tell us our children's education won't be affected? I don't believe it."
Cllr Whitcutt was then accused of misquoting Debbie Haile, vice-chairwoman of the school governors, who said he was being "a bit disrespectful".
Cllr Whitcutt responded: "I'm not disrespecting you, but I think you are disrespecting me."
Mrs Haile said: "Everyone feels really strongly about this. There really is no legitimate reason to move us. They say it's a matter of surplus, but figures show we will meet those requirements within the next five years. "It's not like we want more money, or more equipment or buildings. We just want to be left alone.
"If we move we will lose all the things that make this school so wonderful. The timber trail was paid for by the community - it's not like we can take it with us. The children will lose their gardens and play equipment. We just can't see any benefit to us being moved. It's illogical."
Have your say on the plans until January 18 online at www.newport.gov.uk/haveyoursay
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