Barry and Vale schools face uncertain future
PARENTS and teachers throughout Barry and the Vale of Glamorgan are facing uncertainty amid fears some schools may close under reorganisation plans.
A report on how schools are organised is due to be considered by the council’s cabinet on March 4.
The Vale of Glamorgan Council said it is keen to reassure residents the report only makes proposals and any future changes to schools would be the subject to consultation with parents and other stakeholders.
But the Barry & District News understands three primary schools could be earmarked for closure – Oak Field primary, in Barry, Llanfair primary, in Cowbridge, and Llancarfan primary.
Oak Field primary in Gibbonsdown, which currently has 89 pupils on its roll, has suffered a number of misfortunes in recent years.
The school was flooded in July 2007 when pupils had to be taught in temporary classrooms for months and in 2011 the school was placed under special measures after a damning inspection report concluded its then performance and prospects for improvement were unsatisfactory.
School inspectors Estyn, awarded the then 156-pupil school the lowest ranking available – “unsatisfactory”.
The report acknowledged the head teacher was on sick leave prior to and during the inspection, and that the local authority’s primary adviser, installed seven weeks previously, was effectively in charge.
Vale council cabinet member for children’s services council, Cllr Chris Elmore said the report would recommend a number of changes to how schools were organised to make sure the right schools were in the right places for the future and make the best use of resources. He said: “The proposals take into account the advice of the lifelong learning scrutiny committee’s school places review group, and will involve a number of changes affecting several schools across the Vale.”
The Welsh Government recommends there should be no more than ten per cent surplus school places.
The Vale had 14.74 per cent surplus places in its primary schools in September last year.
Increased demand for school places as a result of new housing development in some areas, meant it was necessary to review catchment areas in parts of the Vale.
Cllr Elmore said: “The primary aim of the proposals is to continue to improve education standards in all the Vale’s schools for our current and future pupils.
“The proposals, if implemented, would result in savings in the region of £695,000 which will be reinvested in schools to ensure we meet this aim.
“Any changes will be the subject of extensive consultation.”
Vale MP Alun Cairns said: “This uncertainty isn’t going to help anyone.”
He said the local development plan and developments with RAF St Athan would mean more than 10,000 dwellings, would be created making school places necessary.
Mr Cairns added: “I think the authority may be putting the cart in front of the horse.”
Vale AM Jane Hutt said she was looking forward to seeing the published report.
She said: “It is vital that we provide the best education opportunities for children and young people in the Vale and that there is extensive consultation about any proposed changes affecting schools, in line with clear guidance from the Welsh Government.”