School closure in Pontnewynydd up for consultation
A PONTYPOOL school faces closure, the third to be affected in Torfaen by the council's 21st century schools programme.
At a cabinet meeting yesterday, councillors voted to open a consultation on the proposed closure of Pontnewynydd School.
This follows Welsh ministers approving the closure of Kemys Fawr Infants school while the council has also proposed the closure of Pontymoile Primary.
Two Locks Nursery, Cwmbran, is also facing closure with decisions being awaited.
Following the cabinet decision to proceed with a consultation on the closure of Pontnewynydd School yesterday, a report is timetabled to come back before the cabinet on November 26.
If cabinet then decide to proceed with closure a statutory notice will be published and a new round of consultation will begin.
At the meeting, the cabinet were informed that Pontnewynydd Primary School is now more than 100 years old and has been identified in an independent survey commissioned by the Welsh Government as a category C/D condition school, with A being good.
In addition, approximately £746,000 is needed in terms of backlog maintenance.
The proposal sets out that children will be accommodated at Penygarn School.
At the meeting, Cllr Brian Mawby, cabinet member in charge of education, said that savings made from school closure is the only means council can prudentially borrow.
But, Trevethin councillor, Lewis Jones, the council's deputy leader, said he was "extremely concerned."
He added: "There is an almighty rush to close the school, but I don't believe, like many people, that there is enough room at Penygarn."
He also pointed out that parents are already considering taking their children from Pontnewynydd School even though the school is performing well.
He also said that with new housing proposals in the area could mean up to 200 new homes and he doubts that Penygarn School could cope.
John Tushingham, Torfaen's head of access, engagement and performance, said none of the school closure proposals relate to academic performance.
He said: "It's about two things, surplus places and looking after the public purse and surplus places are a drain on the public purse."
Cllr Jones proposed deferring the decision until site visits to Pontnewynydd and Penygarn schools, but this was not seconded.
Council Leader, cllr Bob Wellington, said: “"Closing the school is the hardest decision in the world. If it was in my ward I would be the same (opposing it). But we have to take a world view."
Cllr Mawby added: “Unless we conduct the consultation in a fair and proper way then we are failing in improving education for our children."
Motion to go to consultation as recommended is moved by the leader and voted for by all the cabinet bar the deputy leader.
So far, the 21st Century Schools programme is has resulted in the closure/amalgamation of 25 schools with a net reduction of 15 schools overall.
Comments are closed on this article.