Wales

Anglesey school closures will have 'tremendous' impact

A child writing Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The council has said it wants schools of the correct size and in the correct locations led by inspiring head teachers

The closure of as many as 17 rural schools in Anglesey will have a "tremendous" impact on the communities, a campaigner has said.

Anglesey council had previously suggested that shutting schools with fewer than 120 pupils could help it achieve £9m of savings in three years.

But a petition against the move has gathered more than 5,000 signatures and could now be debated in the Senedd.

Anglesey council said it was "no longer possible to safeguard education".

Islwyn Humphreys, who has been fighting to save Talwrn primary school on Anglesey, said the impact would be felt for years to come.

"It is going to have a tremendous effect on general life, and I have no doubt that the Welsh language will suffer," he said.

Image caption Rhun ap Iorwerth has questioned whether councils are adhering to new Welsh Government rules

In August, Anglesey AM Rhun ap Iorwerth accepted a petition from Llangefni primary school Bodffordd's parent-teacher association after the council approved plans to shut the village school.

The council plans to move the school's pupils to a new 360-place 'super school' which will be shared with the town's Ysgol Corn Hir.

But following a meeting of the Welsh assembly's petitions committee in Cardiff Bay on Tuesday, members asked for a full debate on the issue.

Campaigners against school closures had hoped scheduled changes to the Welsh Government's school organisation code, which will allow councils to close smaller rural school only as a "last resort", would come to their rescue.

Image copyright Google
Image caption The issue of school closures was brought to the fore after 5,000 people signed a petition against the closure of Bodffordd primary school

Cymdeithas yr Iaith, which said it was "dismayed" at the council's plans, and other campaigners have consistently argued against rural school closures, citing the impact on the Welsh language and community life.

Mr ap Iorwerth questioned whether the Welsh Government's changes are "anything more than words without the resources to support it".

"I'm very pleased that the Petitions Committee decided to ask for this petition and this important matter to be discussed at a full meeting of the National Assembly," he said.

"There are a number of key issues that need to be explored when it comes to the Assembly floor, not least what the petitioners asked for; whether Welsh Government is ensuring that local authorities the length and breadth of Wales are keeping to the code."

An Anglesey council spokesperson said: "We are continuing to comply with the current school organisation code.

"However, with significant cuts to local authority budgets, it is unfortunately no longer possible to safeguard education.

"The recent decisions to close a number of Anglesey primary schools were extremely difficult decisions, but we are confident that they were based on robust evidence and will benefit the county's education system as a whole."

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