Blaenau Gwent u-turns on Abertillery teaching unit closure

South Wales Argus: LISTENING: Cllr Hedley McCarthy LISTENING: Cllr Hedley McCarthy

BLAENAU Gwent council has made a u-turn on proposals to close a teaching unit in Abertillery for children with extra learning needs.

Education commissioners in charge of the council's education services had wanted to close the Additional Learning Needs (ALN) unit at Bryngwyn Primary School next August and transfer pupils to the unit at Coed y Garn Primary School in Nantyglo.

A review of the whole service found it needed to be modernised and restructured.

It also showed a large preference by parents for mainstream education and so a higher number of empty places within the ALN units.

One of the proposals was to close the Bryngywn unit which currently has six pupils but this has now been withdrawn following the results of the informal consultation process.

The council's executive committee said it had reviewed all 151 responses from the consultation and agreed this week not to continue with the next stage.

It said it recognised the quality of the teaching at the unit and felt the potential risks and costs associated with closing the unit would be higher than keeping the unit open with fewer places.

Pupils needing ALN support in the Abertillery area will now continue to be educated at Bryngwyn Primary and the unit will become a resource base.

This will see pupils supported for part or all of the school day in line with their needs and allows for both inclusion in mainstream and small group teaching.

The change to a resource base would also bring it line with other ALN services in the borough.

Council leader Hedley McCarthy said: "People all too often are dismissive of consultation but this proves that people are listening."

He added: "Blaenau Gwent is committed to providing a flexible inclusive approach and specialist support for pupils with additional learning needs and by maintaining the unit at Bryngwyn this demonstrates our commitment and support."

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