AROUND 200 pupils and parents from closure-threatened Abergavenny schools took their fight to keep them open to the Assembly yesterday.

Holding banners and balloons, they went to hear Monmouth AM David Davies raise a debate on the closure of small rural schools.

The county council has agreed to issue closure notices on Croesonen and Park Street infant schools, Abergavenny, as part of the biggest shake-up of primary education ever seen in Monmouthshire.

There is now a two-month consultation period before the council sends all documents to the Assembly for Education Minister Jane Davidson to make the final decision.

Parents from Llanfoist and Llanover primary schools, also earmarked for closure, also attended, along with those from Harold Road Junior - due to become a primary school under the plan - and Llwynu Infants, which would be replaced with a primary school.

The Conservative AM told Ms Davidson yesterday: "These schools can only close with your consent. I hope we can persuade you to support these parents and teachers in their fight to keep them open.

"As the numbers here show, the council has manifestly failed to make their case (for closure)."

He said: "What's the point of closing good schools that already offer a high level of education. You are our last hope; that's why I've brought up the matter today." Ms Davidson replied that she had deliberately not set a minimum size for schools because local circumstances vary.

But she said the Assembly had encouraged authorities to undertake strategic reviews and that they were obliged to meet the needs of their area in the most cost-effective way. Ms Davidson added: "In Monmouthshire it is not appropriate to comment on such proposals until I've seen and considered all the evidence and can issue a reasoned decision that takes into account all the views."

County education bosses say closures are necessary to meet government targets on class sizes and building quality.