Huw Lewis backs John Beddoes School takeover

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The takeover of a struggling secondary school by another comprehensive has been given the go-ahead by Education Minister Huw Lewis.

John Beddoes School, Presteigne, shuts in April and will become a campus of Newtown High School.

Powys Council is closing the school, which is in special measures, over poor exam results and falling pupil numbers.

An action group against the takeover said the decision may lead to more children being educated in England.

The decision was called in by the Welsh government after 50 objections.

From next April an expanded Newtown High School - over 30 miles away (50km) - will operate as a split-site campus with children aged between 11 and 16 educated in Presteigne.

Education Minister Huw Lewis said deciding sixth form provision at the school was not within his remit but was the responsibility of the school and the local authority.

'Education opportunities'

It is now likely that sixth form pupils at the school will be educated at the Newtown campus.

John Beddoes became the first secondary school in Powys to be placed in special measures by school inspection body Estyn in December last year when performance and prospects for improvement were judged unsatisfactory.

Powys council has said the school's exam results in recent years have been poor, while pupil numbers have dwindled from 550 to 350 in five years.

Newtown High School is the county's only lead practitioner school, a Welsh government initiative which sees the country's best performing schools providing support to others.

A Powys council spokesman said: "The council's priority has been to ensure that high-quality, sustainable 11-16 secondary education thrives in Presteigne.

"The learners of east Radnorshire deserve the best possible education opportunities."

Hilary Marchant, of The Friends of John Beddoes action group which opposed the council's plans, said: "Sixth form pupils will now, in practice, travel to Ludlow and Hereford for their post-16 education rather than Newtown because of better transport links.

"We also fear that parents will send their children to primary schools in England so they fit the criteria for secondary education in England.

"We are worried that the John Beddoes campus will become a poor relation that relies on the goodwill of the Newtown team."

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