Cabinet approves school’s closure
The parents of the eight pupils that attend a doomed Gwynedd primary will be given a choice of which school the children will attend from September, councillors have been told.
Meeting on Tuesday, Gwynedd Council’s cabinet approved launching a statutory notice to shut Ysgol Llanaelhaearn at the end of the current school year, citing plummeting pupil numbers.
Despite having a capacity of 53, Ysgol Llanaelhaearn has only eight pupils on the books across two classes – a figure projected to fall even further to just five by 2021.
But while a recent consultation was based on a recommendation that the pupils should be transferred to the nearest school with empty spaces – Ysgol Bro Plennydd in Y Ffôr – parents and community leaders urged the council to build on links already maintained with Ysgol Chwilog.
Due to already sharing a headteacher and with pupils from Llanaelhaearn currently attending Ysgol Chwilog on two afternoons a week, a request was made and accepted for the authority to provide free transport to Chwilog despite the added distance involved – six miles compared to 3.6.
Any free transport to Chwilog would only be offered, however, to pupils currently on the register at Ysgol Llanaelhaearn with the subsequent arrangements not clear at this stage.
According to Gwynedd council, the decision to close the school was made after a dramatic fall in pupil numbers from 42 in 2012 – with the average cost per pupil for 2019/20 standing at £12,671, compared with the county-wide average of £3,884.
Local councillor Aled Wyn Jones, acknowledging that efforts to boost pupils numbers had not been successful and that closure may be “inevitable”, thanked staff at the school for their work during a difficult period.
“It will be a sad day when the school closes, but perhaps we must accept the situation,” he said.
“I’d like to thank education officers for agreeing to provide transport to Ysgol Chwilog so that the pupils may continue to receive their education under the same headteacher.”
Following the cabinet’s unanimous decision – which several described as a “sad” and “difficult” one to make – a 28 day objection period will be held in March before the school’s official proposed closure in August.
By Gareth Williams – Local Democracy Reporter
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