Posted: Tue 18th Feb 2020

Updated: Wed 26th Feb

AM urges council to “change tack” on school closures

North Wales news and information
This article is old - Published: Tuesday, Feb 18th, 2020

An AM has urged Anglesey Council to “change tack” on its plans to shut two island schools amid an education revamp.
A public consultation is already under way on £16m plans for a new school to replace the 69 pupil Ysgol Bodffordd and Ysgol Corn Hir with Ysgol y Graig in Llangefni expanded to welcome pupils from the existing 40 pupil Ysgol Talwrn.
But echoing concerns in both Talwrn and Bodffordd – who fear the loss of their respective schools – the island’s Plaid Cymru AM has made a public appeal for the local authority to think again.
Rhun ap Iorwerth said in his weekly press column that shutting Bodffordd and Talwrn schools was “not necessary” to facilitate new “desperately needed” facilities in Llangefni.
Acknowledging the challenges faced by councils following a decade of austerity, he praised the current administration for “turning Ynys Môn around after years of problems,” but stated he would “keep making the case for them to take a different tack.”
“We have a problem in the Llangefni area where Ysgol Corn Hir is desperate for a new school building,” he wrote.
“It’s overflowing, and pupils are suffering as a result. That new school needs to be delivered as soon as possible.
“However, the proposal for a new Corn Hir involves closing the village school at Bodffordd and accommodating them in the new building. I don’t think that’s necessary.
“Bodffordd is also a vibrant, full school. So in recent weeks, I’ve argued the case with the council to put on the table a plan to simply build a new Corn Hir, whilst recognising the important place Ysgol Gymuned Bodffordd has within its community.
“I’d help in any way I can to get Welsh Government to agree to that.”
On the proposals to close Ysgol Talwrn and send its pupils to an expanded Ysgol y Graig, he added:  “I’m a big supporter of the principle of multi-site rural schools, bringing a number of schools together under one leadership team, ensuring standards are upheld, whilst keeping schools in their communities.
“It’s not always the best answer, and sometimes mergers are best, but it ought to be explored fully always. This principle could apply to both Talwrn and Bodffordd.
“I’ve met governors and parents of all schools affected by the modernisation plans to discuss how best to put their case forward.” ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌​​​

Addressing a meeting of the Corporate Scrutiny Committee last month, members of Ysgol Bodffordd’s governing body echoed calls to keep the school open while proceeding with a new £10m school building in Llangefni. ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌​​​

“This isn’t a fight between Bodffordd and Llangefni,” said Gareth Parry, describing Bodffordd as a naturally Welsh school .
“We accept the problems facing Corn Hir and back a new building there, they need it.
“But it needn’t mean you have to shut our school. This is an unfair offer.” ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌​​​

In response, a spokesman for Anglesey Council said that the authority was not in a position to respond due to the consultation process currently being active. ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌​​​

By Gareth Williams – Local Democracy Reporter ‌​‌‌​​​‌‍‌​‌​‌​​​

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