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Two schools to merge in 2021

By Elgan Hearn | Newtown | Politics | Published:

Two schools are set to merge in two years time and should have a new home built for them in the next few years.

Powys County Council's cabinet has decided to go ahead and close both of Newtown's Ladywell Green Infant School and Hafren Community Primary School on August 31, 2021.

It will then open a newly merged school, for pupils aged four to 11, on September 1, 2021.

Education portfolio holder, Councillor Myfanwy Alexander, said: “As a key part of school transformation we intend to abolish the primary divide, having infant junior schools in Powys.

“The reasons for this is a well established educational fact is that any form of transition tends to impact adversely on the learning of young people.

“Every time a child changes school it holds up learning.

“We are dealing with a situation where there is no reason for this divide other than the historic configuration of our schools. It’s a priority for us to create schools that are four to 11 years as we have done in Welshpool.”

Together they will make a school of 239 pupils and a new school building is proposed using the 21st Centuries Schools fund.

Councillor Alexander urged councillors to look at the merger proposal by itself and not think of the North Powys Wellbeing, Rural Regional Centre which has been earmarked for land nearby.

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Assurances

Before the meeting, local member councillor Daniel Rowlands, who represents Newtown's Llanllwchaiarn ward, had attacked the proposal believing that children’s education was being “superseded” by the arguments for building a “rural regional centre” in that part of Newtown.

He believed the pupils of both schools would be losing “green space”.

Councillor James Evans, portfolio holder for corporate governance, housing & public protection, said: “I would like some assurances that what councillor Rowlands has raised has been followed through.”

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Councillor Alexander replied: “It is important to state that councillor Rowlands’ observation relate to sites and buildings which is another stage of this process.

“I would like to offer the strongest possible assurance to councillor Rowlands as I have with other local members that this is a change being pursued with the sole interest of improving the pupils learning experience at those schools.”

Council Leader, councillor Rosemarie Harris asked if anyone would be going back to councillor Rowlands to reassure him.

Councillor Alexander said that she would be happy to meet him.

The cabinet voted the proposal through, with the process now going to consultation to be done in line with the School Organisational Code.

In May, The Welsh Government announced that £2.5 million of funding has been made available for the Wellbeing/Regional Hub Centre project which is earmarked for The Park area of Newtown.

Although it is likely that the project would cost at least 10 times that amount to build.

Services run from the centre could include some pre and post-operative care, day case procedures, diagnostics, outpatients and rehabilitation services.

Elgan Hearn

By Elgan Hearn
@ElganPowysLDR

Local Democracy Reporter covering Powys.

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