New Mid Wales school site has led to ‘deep rifts’

A NEW school will open on the site of a primary that is set to close its doors next year, a council has confirmed

The Welsh medium Church in Wales school will welcome pupils on to the site that currently houses Dyffryn Banw County Primary School in Llangadfan.

Dyffryn Banw and nearby Llanerfyl Church in Wales Foundation School will close on August 31, 2020.

At the start of the 2020 school year, on September 1, the new Church in Wales school will be opened at Dyffryn Banw.

The decision on choosing the new school site was made by Powys County Council’s cabinet on Tuesday. It was supposed to have been made in March but was postponed after councillors questioned the consultation process during a full council meeting.

A letter from the chair of Llanerfyl governors, Rhian Owen, read out at the meeting indicated the process had created deep rifts in the community.

She pointed out it was Dyffryn Banw that had started the school closure process due to a lack of pupils and stressed Llanerfyl governors “had not agreed to the school closing”. At the original meeting in July 2018, when Dyffryn Banw was supposed to be chosen to close, councillor Aled Davies, the cabinet’s finance portfolio holder, had put both schools into the mix of options for closure during the consultation.

Ms Owen said adding Llanerfyl to the consultation had “wrecked a Welsh community and has very likely destroyed the future of Welsh education in the valley”.

“Llanerfyl governors have been in discussion with Caereinion High School with a view to a merger,” she said.

“By coming to the aid of another school we have been manoeuvred into a situation which is none of our making. The partnership with the high school provides us with an opportunity to rebuild from this situation.” Councillor Aled Davies responded, saying: “Much of the issues raised have been addressed.

“I did not fundamentally change the recommendations but gave the option of considering both sites.

“The consultation was very clear, the overwhelming majority, over 80 per-cent of respondents said one school for the valley was the right option and a clear majority that the site for the new school should be at the Banw site.”

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