Future of two Powys schools remains in the balance

The spectre of closure still hangs over two Powys primary schools despite some parents thinking they might remain open, a senior council chief has confirmed.

Sign at Llanbedr Church in Wales primary school
Sign at Llanbedr Church in Wales primary school

At a meeting of Powys County Council’s learning and skills scrutiny committee on Wednesday, the future of Llanbedr and Llanfihangel Rhydithon – also known as Dolau – was discussed by councillors again.

The committee had received feedback on the recommendations it made to the cabinet in June before proposals to delay both the schools' closures by a year, were discussed by the new Liberal Democrat/Labour cabinet.

In July, the cabinet confirmed the two schools would remain open for another year.

In the case of Llanbedr this would allow a full review of the Crickhowell catchment area to take place.

The delay for Llanfihangel Rhydithon would allow the possibility that it can be turned into a Welsh medium school to be explored.

The main thrust of the committee’s recommendations was to continue with the closure process.

Conservative councillor Iain McIntosh, said: “There are parents, teachers and children who think that this ultimately means they won’t close.

“It’s a bit confusing for people. The responses given [in the report] indicate that as it stands the schools are ultimately going to close.”

He asked for this to be confirmed.

Councillor Pete Roberts, Liberal Democrat cabinet member for a learning Powys, said: “We opted to postpone because there would be consultations that would take matters forward and identify whether there is an appropriate case for Dolau as a Welsh medium school or in Llanbedr something unknown comes up in the cluster review.”

He explained that to wholly abandon the closure proposal would mean that the entire process of consultations would need to start again if the decision to close the schools is taken.

Councillor Roberts said: “If there is a different way forward as a result of these consultations, another paper will come before cabinet.”

He added that school governors understood this.

Mr McIntosh asked again: “Are those schools going to close next year.”

Mr Roberts replied: “I have no idea. That would mean prejudging the engagement and consultation processes that are about to happen.”

Mr McIntosh asked officers if they could answer his question.

Interim director of corporate services, Emma Palmer said: “Unless cabinet make a different decision to those that have already been made, the existing decision would be implemented.”

Mr McIntosh replied: “It’s important that the parents and teachers at those schools are made aware of that as they think there’s a chance, they could stay open.”

Tory group leader Councillor Aled Davies added that the closure delay of a year was costing the council £360,000.

The original decision to close the schools was taken by the previous Independent/Conservative cabinet earlier this year.

The schools were supposed to close on August 31, 2022 but it is now set for August 31, 2023.

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