Three Torfaen schools could close in bid to reduce surplus places

Three Torfaen schools could close in bid to reduce surplus places

OPPOSING CLOSURE PLANS: Kate Taylor with her sons Brodey, eight, and Caleb, five, and Kelly Beaumont with her nine-year-old daughter, Ellie

AT RISK: Pontymoile Primary School could close next year

First published in Gwent news

THREE Torfaen schools could close next year as part of a multi-millionpound transformation of the borough’s schools.

Two Locks Nursery School and Kemys Fawr Infants School in Sebastopol, and Pontymoile Primary School in Pontypool could all shut as part of proposals by Torfaen council to reduce surplus places.

There is also a proposal to close Pontymoile’s autistic special needs resource base and move pupils to Nant Celyn Primary in Cwmbran.

Pupils from Two Locks Nursery School would also move to Nant Celyn Primary School while Pontymoile pupils would be split between George Street Primary and New Inn Primary.

Children at Kemys Fawr Infants School wouldmove to Griffithstown Primary.

Two Locks currently has 29 surplus seats – a quarter of all places – while Kemys Fawr has 47 across the whole school – 30 empty in the primary and 17 in the nursery, representing 32 per cent and 47 per cent respectively.

There are 114 surplus places at Pontymoile Primary - 49 per cent of the total - not including the special needs unit.

The plans are the first step in the council’s £257.6 million school transformation programme and would see pupils starting at their new schools from September 1 next year.

The proposals, if approved by the council’s cabinet members today, would then be open to a six-week consultation process starting next month.

The closures, which are not reliant on grant funding, would be the first part of Torfaen’s 21st Century schools programme.

The programme will be split into four phases with schools in most critical need of improvement taking priority between 2014 and 2019 and will include a mix of new, extended and refurbished schools.

Torfaen council came up with the proposals after the Welsh Government requested all councils to submit plans in 2010 to transform education and tackle issues of ageing school buildings and surplus places.

It needs to reduce surplus places in primary schools to below ten per cent and surplus places in secondary schools to below 15 per cent by 2015.

The council’s executive member for children and young people, Councillor Mary Barnett, said these proposals are the first of many steps to help end the ‘patch and mend’ approach of maintaining Torfaen’s schools.

Parents vow to do all they can to stop closure

PARENTS at Pontymoile Primary School told the Argus they received letters about the proposals on Friday.

Kelly Beaumont and Kate Taylor said parents are now going to do everything they can to try to save the school.

Miss Beaumont, whose nine-yearold daughter Ellie is a pupil at the school, said: “It’s a lovely school.

The class sizes are maybe a bit small but that’s good.

“I went here, my oldest daughter went here and I would have liked my youngest daughter to go here.”

Mrs Taylor has two sons at Pontymoile and said the small class sizes are ideal for her eight-year-old son Brodey, who has hearing problems.

She added: “I don’t have transport so I would have to do four trips to George Street or New Inn each day.

If they do close the school, the next thing they’ve got to sort out is transport.”

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