Three Blaenau Gwent schools could close to cut surplus places

South Wales Argus: Three Blaenau Gwent schools could close to cut surplus places Three Blaenau Gwent schools could close to cut surplus places

THREE Blaenau Gwent primary schools could be closed following new plans to help reduce surplus places in the borough.

Briery Hill Primary, in Tredegar, Rhos y Fedwen Primary in Rassau and Blaentillery Primary, Abertillery, have been selected as schools which could shut down as they each have close to 50 per cent empty classrooms.

No decision has been made yet and education commissioners will now present the proposals to the council’s executive committee next week where it will be considered whether to proceed with an informal consultation.

The proposals comes as part of the 21st Century Schools programme and follows a £20.25m capital investment from the Welsh Government to invest in the school estate in the borough between 2014 and 2020.

The Welsh Government has set a target for all local authorities to reduce their surplus school places to below 15 per cent by 2015 but the council is aiming to reach 10 per cent.

A report presented by the commissioners proposes the closure of Briery Hill Primary, on August 31, 2014. Briery Hill currently has a capacity of 161 but has 82 surplus places.

If the school was to close pupils would be taught at Willowtown Primary School or the new Ebbw Fawr Learning Community from September 1, 2014. The report states the preferred option is for pupils to move to the Ebbw Fawr Learning Community.

Rhos y Fedwen Primary School which has a capacity of 236 but 111 surplus places, is another school which could be closed within the same time frame with pupils moving to an enlarged Beaufort Hill Primary or the council’s preferred option of an enlarged Glyncoed Primary.

The third proposal is to close Blaentillery Primary School which has a capacity of 127 and 74 surplus places, within the same time frame, with pupils moving to Roseheyworth Millennium School or the council’s preferred option of Abertillery Primary.

A fourth proposal is also made on the report to create a seedling provision within a current school in the Sirhowy valley to accommodate initially nursery and reception age children from the area and to reduce pupil numbers at Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Helyg.

Proposals made are to establish an additional Welsh medium provision with a starter class for nursery and reception children at Deighton Primary or at Glanhowy Primary either as a class in its own right or federated with Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Helyg.

The preferred option is to create the class alongside Deighton Primary federated with Ysgol Gymraeg Brohelyg.

Assistant director of education and leisure, Lynn Phillips said: "Doing nothing is not an option.

"The whole project is driven by the desire to raise educational standards."

Proposals to go on show

The executive committee meet on October 10. If it approves for the proposals to go to informal consultation, this is expected to start on October 22 and run until December 16. It will then be decided if a formal consultation will be held.

A number of public events will be held regarding the proposals. For more information visit www.blaenau-gwent.gov.uk, e-mail 21stcenturyschools@blaenau-gwent.gov.uk or write to Lynn Phillips, Assistant director education and leisure c/o Education Transformation Team, Anvil Court. Church Street, Abertillery, NP13 1DB.

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