Mid Wales

Dihewyd school campaigners welcome Estyn report

A group campaigning to save a primary school threatened with closure claims a new report by inspectors has strengthened its case.

Dihewyd school is being reviewed for closure by Ceredigion council due to low pupil numbers and high cost-per-pupil figures.

But a report by Estyn inspectors said the school provided "good value for money".

Ceredigion council is likely to decide the school's future in April.

The school currently has 21 pupils on its register with a school budget per pupil of £9,062.

The Estyn report said Dihewyd school was the most expensive of the county's 51 primary schools in terms of the school budget per pupil.

'Vital partnership'

The report added that the school's current performance was good and there was a "strong partnership between the school and the local community".

But it does recommend that pupil attendance needs to improve.

Hywel Ifans, chairman of Dihewyd Community School Action Group, said: "Despite acknowledging the cost-per-pupil figures, the inspectors concluded that due to carefully managed expenditure the school provided good value for money.

"Pupil numbers at the school have increased steadily despite the threat of closure.

"We believe this has strengthened our case to keep the school open.

"We are also pleased the inspectors acknowledged the vital partnership between the school and the community it serves.

'Save costs'

"A fact we feel is overlooked in the authority's recent impact assessment which states the school's proposed closure would have a 'neutral' effect on this rural community, something we have vehemently refuted.

"With the authority having indicated that their county-wide culling of small schools is largely driven by a need to save costs, we now sincerely hope that they look at each case on its individual merits."

Dihewyd school is one of four primary schools to have been earmarked for closure by the local authority.

The futures of Dihewyd, Trefilan, Llanddewi Brefi and Llanafan primary schools are expected to be decided by Ceredigion council in April.

Councillors voted to take over responsibility for school closures from the cabinet in January.

A Ceredigion council spokesman said: "The consultation on the proposal to close Ysgol Dihewyd ended on 28 February.

"Estyn provided a full response to the consultation.

"All comments and questions, including those presented by the Dihewyd Community School Action Group, will be presented to cabinet along with the education department's response."

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