Brynglas primary school, Newport likely to go in merger as 74% of places empty
9:40am Tuesday 13th November 2012 in Gwent news
UNHAPPY: Sue Williams with son Thomas, Gordan Williams with son Ethan and Nicola Hayes with son Alexander outside Brynglas Primary
AFTER a six-year fight to keep Newport’s Brynglas Primary School open, falling pupil numbers means its chairman of governors is almost resigned to it closing in a new consultation on primary mergers.
Chairman of governors Cllr Paul Cockeram attended the Newport school soon after it opened in 1955, while his children are also former pupils. But, he said, the fact it is running with 74 per cent of its 200-plus places unfilled means the writing appears on the wall.
Parents received a letter on Friday stating that following a meeting between Newport City Council and governors a reorganisation programme is planned to address surplus places.
The letter said the proposals include closing Brynglas Primary, with pupils moving to nearby Crindau Primary and a Welsh-medium school on the Brynglas site.
It also said that Gaer Infants could amalgamate with Gaer Junior on the junior site and could come into effect in September 2013.
The letter states a formal consultation will start in the next month, and while the final decision will rest with Education Minister Leighton Andrews, Cllr Cockeram said he sees no other option but for pupils to move to Crindau Primary.
He said: “It hasn’t been a decision taken lightly. But, after six years of pressure and hard work, there seems no other alternative as Crindau has places and is only around half a mile away.”
From more than 200 pupils when he was at the school, Cllr Cockeram said numbers have been falling year on year, with the Brynglas estate and Bryn Bevan no longer seemingly able to support a school. There were just eight new pupils in this September’s intake, while there are three different age groups in some of the classes, with a total of 55 pupils now at the school.
Cllr Cockeram added: “The most important thing is the education of those remaining. It is losing children, there is no finance. In the end it will die on the vine with a couple of children there. That is no good.”
Newport council was unavailable for comment yesterday.
Parents upset and indignant
PARENT Sue Williams, whose son, Thomas, recently started at Brynglas Primary, called it a “small community school”.
She said: “Teachers, children and other staff genuinely care for each member of the school, and they are proud of this school. What right does the LEA, who I pay my large council tax bill to, have to take this away from these children for the sake of saving a few pounds?”
Gordon Williams, whose four-year-old son, Ethan, attends Brynglas Primary, said: “It’s far more important, especially at his age, to have a friendly school. I prefer the atmosphere at Brynglas and he has made a lot of friends here. I chose to live in this area because he could come to this school. He’s been doing really well here.”