Pontnewynydd parents vow to fight on to save the school
8:02am Friday 4th October 2013 in News
“WE’RE going to fight this to the bitter end”– that was the defiant response of parents from under-threat Pontnewynydd Primary School.
Pontnewynydd has been earmarked for closure in 2015 as part of Torfaen council’s 21st Century Schools programme which has already seen the closure of Kemys Fawr school and Two Locks nursery, with Pontymoile also set to be closed.
Furious parents say they are utterly bewildered by Torfaen’s decision, given the school is performing so well and have demanded they come to the school to see the good work that goes on.
Pontnewynydd is currently Torfaen’s only sector leading primary school, according to the schools inspectorate Estyn, who rated the school as excellent in all but two categories in its latest report, both of which were rated good. Torfaen has consistently said that 21st century school closures are nothing to do with educational performance and instead are based on Welsh Government directives to cut the number of surplus places and also to provide the best possible buildings for children to learn in.
But for the Pontnewynydd parents, the council has completely missed the point.
“For a borough that has an education department in special measures to close one of its best schools is utterly ridiculous,” said Keith Owen, a parent whose child left the school last year.
“They haven’t mentioned the children once," Karen Merriman, a former teacher and parent said. "They talk about the money but even that doesn’t add up.” “In the Estyn report when they went into special measures, almost all the criticisms were of secondary schools so why haven’t they been touched?” Dad Chris Newman, who has seen all three of his children attend the school added. “It’s all politics.”
Another dad, Shaun Smith, had a suggestion: “If it’s about surplus places then you’ve got two schools in Cwmbran, Fairwater and Llantarnam which have hundreds of surplus places. Why not merge those? Because you’d have even more uproar if you started closing comprehensive schools. They think we’re an easy target.”
The plans to close the school would see Pontnewynydd’s children encouraged to move to Penygarn Primary.
For Sam Hughes that isn’t an option. “My daughter has Aspergers and ADHD, she’d found it hard at other schools but this school turned her life around,” she said. “The children from this school grow up with wonderful values,” Helen Griggs, another mum of a former pupil agreed.
“Open, accepting of others because that’s what the school is like. My daughter Abigail left the school a confident, happy child.”
For Mum Amanda Williams and the parents there’s only one option. To fight on.
“My son is fretting already about having to move. He doesn’t want to, how do you explain a decision like this to a nine-year-old? We need everyone to come together and save the heart of the community,” she said.
l Tell us what you think of the council’s plans for Pontnewynydd by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
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